Thailand's king condemns bid by sister to become PM
Published : 09 Feb 2019, 13:14
Thailand's King Vajiralongkorn has denounced as "inappropriate" his sister's unprecedented bid to run for prime minister in March's election.
In a palace statement, he said such an act would "defy the nation's culture".
Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, 67, has been nominated as a candidate for a party allied to divisive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
Such a move would break with the tradition of the Thai royal family publicly staying out of politics.
Analysts say the king's intervention is likely to lead to the election commission disqualifying her from the 24 March election.
The vote is being closely watched as the first chance for Thailand to return to democracy after five years under military rule.
In a palace statement broadcast on all Thai TV networks, the king said: "Even though she has relinquished her royal titles in writing, she maintained her status and carried herself as a member of the Chakri dynasty.
"Involvement of a high-ranking member of the royal family in politics, in whatever way, is considered an act that defies the nation's traditions, customs and culture, and therefore is considered extremely inappropriate."
The statement cited a passage of the constitution that says the monarchy should maintain political neutrality.
Hours earlier, Princess Ubolratana defended her decision to run for office.
In an Instagram post, she reiterated that she had relinquished all her royal titles and now lived as a commoner.
She said she wanted to exercise her rights as an ordinary citizen by offering her candidacy for prime minister. She said she would work with all sincerity and determination for the prosperity of all Thais.
Who is Princess Ubolratana Mahidol?
Born in 1951, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi is the oldest child of Thailand's beloved late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He died in 2016.
She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and after marrying an American in 1972 she gave up her royal title. After her divorce she returned to Thailand in 2001 and once again started participating in royal life.
The princess engages actively in social media and has also starred in several Thai movies.
She has three children, one of whom died in the 2004 Asian tsunami. The other two now also live in Thailand.
The princess has registered for the Thai Raksa Chart party, which is closely linked to Mr Thaksin.
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