Thailand Court Bans Party That Nominated Princess for PM

The Shinawatra-linked Thai Raksa Chart party was found guilty of committing an act'hostile to the constitutional monarchy'More

The Shinawatra-linked Thai Raksa Chart party was found guilty of committing an act'hostile to the constitutional monarchy'More

A court in Thailand has voted unanimously to dissolve an opposition political party that nominated a princess as its sole candidate for prime minister, raising concerns about the fairness and legitimacy of the country's elections on March 24.

Party executives - including two Shinawatra family members - were also banned from politics for a decade.

Banning the Thai Raksa Chart party just over two weeks before the general election struck a blow to opposition parties' chances of defeating parties allied to the military junta that has ruled for almost five years.

The announcement of the princess's candidacy on 8 February shocked Thailand.

It was an unprecedented move in a constitutional monarchy where royals are officially above the political fray, and prompted a rare public rebuke by her younger brother, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who issued a royal command declaring the party's move "inappropriate".

Thai Raksa Chart is one of several parties loyal to ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in an election that broadly pits his supporters against parties allied to the military junta that has ruled for almost five years.

Analysts say dissolving the party will make it harder for Mr Thaksin's supporters to win the national election due later this month.

"The structure of Thailand's polarisation with Thaksin and what he stood for as the fault line remains more or less the same", he said.

As legal justification for the nomination, the party had pointed out that she held no formal royal titles because they were rescinded when she married a foreigner, an American, in 1972.

The nine-member bench is set to decide whether to dissolve the party on allegations it acted in a manner "hostile to the constitutional monarchy" by proposing the princess' name.

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Thai Raksa Chart leader Preechapol Pongpanit avowed his group's loyalty to the king and the monarchy after Thursday's ruling. "No matter what status we're in, we'll do something good for the country", he said.

Princess Ubolratana wrote on Instagram: "I have heard the news.

It's sad and depressing", to a comment on her Instagram account noting the court action.

A Thai party which is a crucial cog in the election strategy of the Shinawatra political clan braced Thursday for a ruling which could see it dissolved over an ill-starred bid to front a princess as candidate for premier.

The army said that Thaksin's disrespect for the throne, in addition to his abuse of power, led to his ousting.

Thaksin's enemies accuse him of toxifying Thai politics with corruption and nepotism.

Voters who had been aiming to support it would simply switch to another pro-Thaksin party.

In an analysis made ahead of the ruling, Prajak Kongkirati, who teaches political science at Thammasat University, predicted that dissolution would weaken the Thaksin side significantly.

Prior to the ruling, Thai Raksa Chart had fielded candidates nationwide to vie for both party list and constituency seats in the same alliance with three other parties loyal to Thaksin: Pheu Thai, Puea Chart and Prachachart.

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