Party that nom­i­nated Thai princess for PM faces ban

Millennium Post - - Mp World -

BANGKOK: The Thai po­lit­i­cal party that nom­i­nated a princess as its can­di­date for Prime Min­is­ter could be banned from a gen­eral elec­tion in March af­ter an ac­tivist said on Sun­day he would file a pe­ti­tion seek­ing its dis­so­lu­tion.

Thai­land’s Elec­tion Com­mis­sion is to meet on Mon­day to con­sider the can­di­dacy of Princess Ubol­ratana Ra­jakanya Siri­vad­hana Bar­navadi, 67, who stunned the na­tion on Fri­day when she said she would be the prime min­is­te­rial can­di­date for a pop­ulist party loyal to ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shi­nawa­tra.

Her an­nounce­ment drew a swift re­buke from King Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn, the princess’s younger brother, who is­sued a state­ment hours later say­ing it was “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” for mem­bers of the royal fam­ily to en­ter pol­i­tics.

The March 24 elec­tion is the first since a mil­i­tary coup in 2014 top­pled an elected pro-thaksin govern­ment. The cur­rent junta leader, Prayuth Chan-ocha, is also con­test­ing the race for prime min­is­ter, as the can­di­date of a pro-mil­i­tary party.

The nom­i­na­tion of the king’s el­der sis­ter, who has starred in soap op­eras and an ac­tion movie and gave up her royal ti­tles af­ter mar­ry­ing an Amer­i­can, was a shock­ing move by forces loyal to Thaksin, who face an up­hill bat­tle in the elec­tion.

The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion has un­til Fri­day to rule on the princess’s can­di­dacy. It is un­likely its mem­bers would dis­re­gard the wishes of the king, who while a con­sti­tu­tional monarch, is con­sid­ered semi-di­vine in Thai so­ci­ety.

On Sun­day, an ac­tivist said he would file a pe­ti­tion to dis­qual­ify the Thai Raksa Chart party, which nom­i­nated the princess.

“The royal an­nounce­ment made it clear that the party vi­o­lated elec­toral law,” Srisuwan Janya, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the As­so­ci­a­tion for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion, told Reuters.

Srisuwan said his com­plaint to the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion would ask it to rec­om­mend that a Con­sti­tu­tional Court dis­solve the party.

Thai Raksa Chart’s ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Chaturon Chaisaeng de­clined to com­ment on the re­quest to dis­band it. The party said it would ac­cept the king’s mes­sage and “move for­ward into the elec­tion arena to solve prob­lems for the coun­try”.

The royal fam­ily has a long­stand­ing tra­di­tion of stay­ing out of pol­i­tics, and elec­toral law for­bids par­ties from us­ing the monar­chy in cam­paigns.

Par­ties loyal to for­mer telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ty­coon Thaksin have de­feated proestab­lish­ment par­ties to win ev­ery elec­tion since 2001, but since 2006 each of their gov­ern­ments have been re­moved by court rul­ings or coups.

The gam­bit to nom­i­nate a mem­ber of the royal fam­ily could back­fire on Thai Raksa Chart, said Ti­tipol Phakdee­wanich, dean of the fac­ulty of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Ubon Ratchathani Univer­sity. “Things are now more un­pre­dictable,” Ti­tipol told Reuters.

If the party is dis­solved, it could give more seats to an­tithaksin af­fil­i­ated par­ties like the pro-junta, Pha­lang Pracharat and pro­gres­sive Fu­ture For­ward party, he said.

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