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11 February 2019, 06:54 | Glen Norman
Livening things up Nomination of Princess Ubolratana as prime ministerial candidate has transformed what could have been a dull campaign
Princess Ubolratana Rajaka of Thailand attends "Thailand Hub of Entertainment", a film and entertainment industry event for investors, in Hong Kong.
Thailand's royally appointed Election Commission on Monday formally blocked Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya's prime ministerial bid, days after her brother King Maha Vajiralongkorn issued a rare order denouncing his sister's unprecedented foray into politics.
Princess Ubolratan did not comment on her prime ministerial candidacy, but thanked her supporters and said she wants Thailand to be "moving forward".
The commissioners voted to shoot down the nomination just three days after His Majesty the King barred Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, 68, from the race for the top government job on the grounds that royal family members can not get involved in politics.
Still, Paiboon Nititawan, the pro-military People Reform Party leader, has called on the Election Commission to meet Monday to consider dissolving the Thai Raksa Party for nominating the princess despite withdrawing her nomination.
The March 24 elections are the first since a 2014 military coup toppled a pro-Thaksin government.
The EC rejected TRC's candidate on grounds that royal family members are above politics and can not hold political positions.
"All members of the royal family must abide by the king's principle of staying above politics, maintaining political impartiality and they can not take up political office", part of the statement released to the media said. It is unlikely its members would disregard the wishes of the king, who while a constitutional monarch, is considered semi-divine in Thai society.
"I think the party leader and board should take a responsibility by resigning", said Srisuwan Janya of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, a royalist activist group, who submitted a petition to election authorities Monday calling for the party's censure.
Thai Raksa Chart could be disbanded by the Constitutional Court if the EC finds it violated the law and forwards the case for a court ruling.
Meanwhile, the fate of Thai Raksa Chart hangs in the balance.
Mr Prayut overthrew the democratic government of Yingluck Shinawatra, the younger sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
She broke a long-standing tradition in which the Thai monarchy is seen as above the political fray, and allied herself with Thaksin's political movement, long-criticized as anti-monarchist and anti-establishment.
If the party is dissolved, it could give more seats to anti-Thaksin affiliated parties, he said, although there are other parties loyal to the ex-premier contesting the election.
Thaksin, himself removed in a coup in 2006, lives in self-imposed exile after being convicted by a Thai court of corruption in absentia.
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