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Thai court disbands political party over princess' run for PM

By
Clyde Hughes
Thai Raksa Chart supporters in Bangkok, Thailand, react Thursday to the Constitutional Court's dissolution of the party. Photo by Rungroj Yongrit/EPA-EFE
Thai Raksa Chart supporters in Bangkok, Thailand, react Thursday to the Constitutional Court's dissolution of the party. Photo by Rungroj Yongrit/EPA-EFE

March 7 (UPI) -- Thailand's Constitutional Court on Thursday dissolved the Thai Raksa Chart Party for its unorthodox nomination of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya as prime minister.

The court cited Thai law that says royal family members are required to remain politically neutral. The ruling also bars 14 party officials for 10 years from running for Thailand public office. They were also banned from joining other parties or setting up a new party over the same period.

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The princess is the oldest daughter of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the sister of current King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Her decision to run for prime minister touched off a controversy and family rift, as the king challenged her nomination last month.

"This could be a setback for Thaksin's camp because three million potential votes for Thai Raksa Chart candidates could disappear," said Punchada Sirivunnabood, associate professor at Mahidol University's Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, told Bloomberg. "It's also a setback to a democratic voting system."

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Princess Ubolratana had resigned from her duties with Thailand's royal family in 1972 when she married American Peter Ladd Jensen lived a time in the United States. She divorced and resumed her royal duties in 2001.

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The Thai Raksa Chart Party has ties to exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecommunications billionaire who was removed in a military coup on corruption charges in 2006. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, served as prime minister from 2011 to 2014 before she was removed by the Constitutional Court. An arrest warrant was issued for her in 2017 for failing to appear in court to hear the verdict in her two-year negligence trial.

Yingluck Shinawatra dismissed the charges as politically-motivated.

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