King blocks Thai princess' prime minister bid; pressure mounts to dissolve party

Princess Ubolratana who says she will be a candidate for Prime Minister in next month's elections in Thailand

The Thai Raksa Chart party had announced Friday that Princess Ubolratana, who is 67, would be the party's prime minister nominee for the March 24 election.

The Thai Raksa Chart party - Princess Ubolratana's nominating party - has said that it "graciously accepts" the royal announcement and "would abide by election regulations and royal tradition".

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.

As a candidate, Ubolratana would have attempted to oust junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the preferred choice of the military.

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.

Princess Ubolratana had claimed she was exercising her rights as a commoner to stand for election but she undermined her own candidacy by listing the royal "Grand Palace" as her residence on official registration papers.

"The provisions also cover the queen, heir-apparent and royal family members close to the king", stressed the royal statement, adding that they "may not hold any political position, as it is against the intention of the constitutions and constitutional monarchy tradition".

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The party said it complied "with the royal command with loyalty to the king and all members of the royal family".

Thai Raksa Chart's executive chairman Chaturon Chaisaeng declined to comment on the request to disband it.

"If (the commission) finds it to be unconstitutional, they should submit a case to the constitutional court to dissolve the party", he told AFP.

The Thai royal family, a revered institution shielded from criticism by a tough defamation law, has traditionally been seen as above the political fray, although royals have intervened in moments of political crisis.

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

The former prime minister was ousted in a 2006 coup and has since lived in self-imposed exile to avoid a conviction in 2008 for violating conflict of interest rules, which he says was politically motivated.

"I would like to say once again that I want to see Thailand moving forward, being admirable and acceptable by worldwide countries, want to see all Thais have rights, a chance, good living, happiness to all", she said, ending her post with an "#ILoveYou" hashtag.

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