Published: Mon, February 11, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Thai king: Sister's PM bid 'extremely inappropriate'

Thai king: Sister's PM bid 'extremely inappropriate'

The party falls under the tutelage of Thaksin, who stands at the heart of Thailand's bitter political schism - loathed by the army and Bangkok elite, yet adored by the rural poor for health, welfare and education schemes.

Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechapol Pongpanich, holds up application of candidate for Prime Minister, Thailand's Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, at the election commission office in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb 8, 2019.

Thailand is reeling under a rare kind of tension after the nation's King Vajiralongkorn moved to block his sister's candidacy for prime minister labelling it "gravely inappropriate" and unconstitutional.

The leaders of the princess's nominating party, Thai Raksa Chart - an offshoot of the larger pro-Thaksin party that was ousted from power in the 2014 coup - have declined to comment on the king's statement.

A former general, Mr Prayuth also announced on Friday that he would be running for prime minister in the forthcoming election as a candidate for the pro-military Palang Pracharat party.

The March 24 election has been viewed as a straightforward battle between Thaksin's populists and their allies, on the one hand, and the royalist-military establishment on the other.

For Thaksin, it amounts to another setback - one of many since he was first removed in a 2006 coup, in part due to accusations of undermining the monarchy.

The statement said the party appreciated the Princess's kindness to the party.

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On Friday morning, it was confirmation of Ubolratana's unprecedented candidacy that was the stunner, as the development grabbed headlines and saw footage of the 67-year-old, in recent times an actress, aired repeatedly on global news channels.

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy and has not had a royal run for frontline office since 1932.

Thai Raksa Chart responded swiftly, cancelling a campaign event on Saturday and issuing a statement saying it "complies with the royal command".

"Even though she relinquished her title according to royal laws ... she still retains her status and position as a member of the Chakri dynasty", the king's order said. The move would have presented a serious challenge to Thailand's military junta, which has ruled since a coup in 2014, and would have marked a potential comeback for Thaksin and his populist political movement.

So we don't know. we're really entering an uncharted territory: people are asking whether, if she becomes Prime Minister, would the opposition be able to really criticise and scrutinise her in Parliament - or even launch a no-confidence motion.

Prayuth also accepted on Friday the nomination as a candidate for prime minister from his military-backed party. It added that it will respect the will of the people in a democratic way with the king as the head of state.

She is also said to live in the grounds of the royal palace and enjoys numerous trappings and privileges of the Thai Royal Family, including coverage on the daily Royal TV news. "It is not easy for me to make my is a crucial moment for the country", he said. She returned to Thailand after a divorce. She is referred to as "Tunkramom Ying", which means "Daughter to the Queen Regent", and is treated by officials as a member of the royal family. What actually had happened behind the scenes is unlikely to become public, because the royal family's private affairs are nearly never leaked.

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