Published: Mon, February 11, 2019

Thai king thwarts former princess' PM bid: Who's who

Thai king thwarts former princess' PM bid: Who's who

The elder sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn was nominated as the prime ministerial candidate of Thai Raksa Chart Party, only for her bid to be stymied by her brother, the King, some 13 hours later.

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.

After her divorce in late 1998, the princess returned to Thailand and received a royal designation. He said that the princess' name could be used for election campaigning, which breaches Section 17 of the election law barring candidates and political parties from using the monarchy for that.

The royal announcement added: "Bringing a high-ranking member of the royal family to politics, in whatever manner, is an act in violation of the royal tradition and national culture and highly inappropriate".

A day after the party's swift response saying it "complies with the royal command" to retract the princess' candidacy, Thai Raksa Chart issued a statement Sunday saying their party policies remain unchanged.

Next month's vote is being closely watched as the first chance for Thailand to return to democracy after five years under military rule.

Here are the key personalities in the events following a Thai political party's bid to have a former princess as its prime ministerial candidate, and the key players in the upcoming elections.

The much-anticipated election is set for March 24 and will be the first since a 2014 coup.

That ends a bold gambit by the anti-military coalition to boost its popularity and insulate itself against charges of being anti-monarchy, by having the king's flamboyant older sister Ubolratana run for prime minister, although her nomination can not be legally withdrawn. That would leave the largest party in the coalition, which is aligned with Mr Shinawatra, still contesting the election, but without an important partner. She relinquished her royal title in 1972 when she married an American, Peter Jensen and changed her named to Julie Jensen.

The Association for the Protection of the Constitution plans to file a petition to the commission to "investigate if Thai Raksa Chart Party's nomination of Princess Ubolratana is lawful and constitutional", said chairman Srisuwan Janya.

She said she wanted to exercise her rights as an ordinary citizen by offering her candidacy for prime minister.

"We will keep moving forward in the election so that we can solve the problems for the people and country", the party said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Thailand's current Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, led the 2014 coup and is now widely expected to be re-elected.

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