Party of Thai princess faces ban after king's condemnation

Princess Ubolratana who says she will be a candidate for Prime Minister in next month's elections in Thailand

Thailand's Election Commission has disqualified the sister of the king from running for prime minister.

Thailand's Election Commission has ruled a princess out of next month's election as uncertainty hangs over the fate of the political party which tried to nominate her as its candidate for prime minister.

Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Varnavadi, 67, stunned Thailand when she was nominated by the Thai Raksa Chart party, aligned with ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his populist political movement.

"All members of the royal family must abide by the king's principle of staying above politics, maintaining political impartiality and they can not take up political office", part of the statement released to the media said.

Thai Raksa Chart is a pro-Thaksin Shinawatra party, and Princess Ubolratana is known to be a long-time friend of the Shinawatra family, which has an influence in the upcoming election through its proxy political parties, although they have not fielded a family member directly this time.

She gave up her royal titles after marrying an American and she has starred in soap operas and an action movie.

Thailand's junta chief on Monday dismissed rumours of an impending coup as "fake news", as speculation ricocheted across a kingdom unsettled by the ill-fated political union between a princess and a party allied to the powerful Shinawatra clan.

Election authorities meeting Monday are expected to discuss whether the use of the princess's name was unconstitutional, a first step towards dissolving the party. The commission is likely to follow the wishes of the monarch, who holds a semi-divine place in Thai society. Insulting the monarchy is against the law, punished by up to 15 years in prison.

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The military deposed Thaksin in 2006 and, since then, Thai politics have been locked in a cycle of his allies winning elections and later being ousted from power by court rulings or coups - most recently in 2014, when the army overthrew the remnants of a government that had been led by Thaksin's sister Yingluck.

Thai Raksa Chart's executive chairman Chaturon Chaisaeng declined to comment on the request to disband it.

Shortly after the king's statement she posted again without addressing the issue directly, simply thanking Thais for their support and saying that she wanted Thailand to "move forward and become admired and accepted by the global community".

Parties loyal to Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon, have defeated pro-establishment parties to win every election since 2001.

Andrew MacGregor Marshall, a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University and expert in Thai politics, said that "when the military starts publicly insisting that no coup is coming, this is often a sign that they are about to seize power again".

The candidacy would have broken with the tradition of the Thai royal family publicly staying out of politics.

Thaksin, who has been in exile to avoid a jail sentence on a conflict of interest conviction, is believed by many to have played a role in establishing Ubolratana's candidacy.

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