Thai court to hear EC plea as Thaksin-linked party nominates princess for polls

BANGKOK, Feb. 8, 2019 (Xinhua) — Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechapol Pongpanich (C) holds the registration document of Princess Ubolratana Mahidol in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 8, 2019. Thai Raksa Chart party on Friday nominated Princess Ubolratana Mahidol as their candidate for prime minister. (Xinhua/IANS)

Bangkok, Feb 14 (IANS) Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Thursday agreed to hear an Election Commission petition seeking to dissolve a political party for nominating Princess Ubolratana Mahidol as candidate for the post of the Prime Minister in the upcoming polls.

The party had on last Friday filed the nomination of Princess Ubolratana, King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s elder sister, for March 24 polls. It was the first time a close relative of a Thai monarch was to contest polls.

But her candidacy was invalidated by the Election Commission after the King called her involvement in politics “highly inappropriate”.

The poll panel on Wednesday moved the Constitutional Court seeking to dissolve the opposition Thai Raksa Chart Party.

The court decided to accept the petition on Thursday and gave the party seven days to submit a written defence, a statement said. The court will convene to hear the matter again on February 27, Efe news reported.

The dissolution of the party would mean banning members of its executive (including Ubolratana) from politics for 10 years and will also prevent them from contesting the upcoming elections even if they join another party.

After the court’s decision, the party announced suspension of its campaign to prepare its defence.

It’s the first general election in the country after the military seized power in a bloodless coup in 2014.

The Thai Raksa Chart Party is linked to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose Puea Thai Party has won every election held since 2001. His sister Yingluck Shinawatra was the Prime Minister when the government was overthrown nearly five years ago.

Educated in the US, Ubolratana relinquished her royal titles in 1972 around the time of her marriage to an American. But following their divorce in 1998, she returned to Thailand with their children.

She was not the first member of the royal family to contest elections in Thailand, but she is the first direct relation of a monarch to run.

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