Party that nominated Thai princess for PM faces ban

Thai King Dashes Sister's Political Dreams

Princess Ubolratana, who renounced all claims to her royal status when she married an American man in 1972, sensationally announced her plan to stand as a candidate in Thailand's upcoming general election yesterday.

In a country where the monarch's word is final, King Maha Vajiralongkorn dismissed proposals to draft a senior royal into politics as "most inappropriate" and breaching the constitution.

After her divorce in late 1998, the princess returned to Thailand and received a royal designation.

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

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

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having the king's flamboyant older sister Ubolratana run for prime minister, although her nomination can not be legally withdrawn.

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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.

"We won't work with a party that is not like us: respecting the laws. traditions and Thai customs - something that Thai people are very strict about", party leader Uttama Savanayana told reporters Sunday, in a reference to the Thai Raksa Chart party. If that is the case, either there was a misunderstanding, or he changed his mind.

Bangkok Post reported that the opposition was made on the grounds that the princess "is still a royal family member who is not allowed to take political positions" despite having legally relinquished her royal titles, following her marriage to Peter Jensen, a citizen of the United States, who she had met whilst studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Hours earlier, Princess Ubolratana defended her decision to run for office.

But the decision leaves the party without a prime ministerial candidate.

The March 24 election is the first since a military coup in 2014 toppled an elected pro-Thaksin government.

Shortly after the king's statement she posted again without addressing the issue directly, simply thanking Thais for their support and saying that she wanted Thailand to "move forward and become admired and accepted by the global community".

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