Thai court bans party that nominated princess for PM | News | DW | 07.03.2019
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Thai court bans party that nominated princess for PM

The opposition Thai Raksa Chart has ties to ex-premiers Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra and nominated the king's sister for prime minister. Its dissolution could have a knock-on effect on upcoming elections.

Thai's Constitutional Court on Thursday dissolved an opposition party that nominated the king's sister as its candidate for prime minister.

The ruling against the Thai Raksa Chart (TRC) party and Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi strikes a blow to the opposition's plans to defeat Thailand's military junta in elections on March 24.

What the court said:

  • TRC illegitimately nominated the princess as its prime ministerial candidate on February 8.
  • "The monarchy is above politics and to maintain political neutrality, the king, the queen and princesses can never exercise political rights by casting votes," judge Nakharin Mektrairat said.
  • In response, TRC leaders are barred from politics for 10 years.
  • 300 TRC candidates are also banned from contesting in the election.

What were the reactions?

TRC chief Preechapol Pongpanich said: "I and the party's executives have the utmost regret over the
party's dissolution, which affects the fundamental political rights and freedom of the party members and the people."

Princess Ubolratana wrote on Instagram: "I have heard the news. It is sad and depressing."

Why does this weaken the opposition? The opposition is hoping to win more seats in the upcoming ballot by fielding multiple parties. That became necessary after the junta made changes to the electoral system that made it harder for the biggest opposition party, Pheu Thai, to single-handedly win a large number of seats.

Read more: Thai princess disqualified as candidate for prime minister

Who governs Thailand? Thailand's constitution limits the monarchy to a largely ceremonial role. The military has been in power since it overthrew the civilian government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014. It is hoping for allied parties to defeat the opposition in upcoming elections to keep hold of power.

What is the TRC? The opposition party is one of several that supports former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin, like his younger sister, Yingluck, was overthrown in a military coup in 2006.

Read more: Thai princess upends tradition with PM candidacy announcement

Who is Princess Ubolratana? The 67-year-old princess is King Maha Vajiralongkorn's sister. Despite giving up her royal titles in 1972, she is still considered a senior royal family member. She is currently in Berlin, where she is promoting tourism to Thailand.

Why did TRC nominate the princess? The party intended to counter accusations that it was not pro-monarchy enough. But the Electoral Commission rejected the nomination and the king denounced his sister's nomination as "inappropriate" and unconstitutional.

amp/rt (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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