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Thai election commission moves to dissolve party linked to princess

AFP  |  Bangkok 

Thailand's election commission on Wednesday asked the constitutional court to dissolve a party that proposed a as candidate for prime minister, a potentially serious blow to the political aspirations of the kingdom's powerful Shinawatra clan.

Junta-ruled has sunk into political chaos since Friday, when Ubolratana's name was submitted by Thai Raksa Chart, a party allied with the divisive billionaire ex-

Her unprecedented bid to enter frontline unravelled within hours after Maha Vajiralongkorn, the 67-year-old Ubolratana's younger brother, decried the entry of a royal into the political fray as "highly inappropriate".

Thailand's powerful and vastly wealthy monarchy is seen as above politics, although royals have intervened before during times of political crisis.

The commission brought a premature end to the princess's political career by disqualifying her as a candidate for

On Wednesday the commission filed a request with the constitutional court to disband for breaching the by bringing a royal family member into

"That action is considered hostile to the constitutional monarchy," it said. It was not immediately clear if the court could rule on Thai Raksa Chart's dissolution before the March 24 election.

If dissolved, the party's executives -- including Shinawatra family members -- could face a long political ban, while its candidates would be unable to run in the poll.

The party said it will contest the move.

"Our party will go ahead (with campaigning) we are the hope of ... our people," said, adding that they were "stunned" by how swiftly events had unfolded over the past few days.

was set to add to the of the bigger Shinawatra electoral vehicle, Pheu Thai, in an election where secondary parties are targeting seats via the party list system.

remains a deeply divided kingdom.

Parties affiliated with Thaksin have won every election since 2001, but their governments have been battered by two coups and a barrage of court cases driven through by an arch-royalist Bangkok-based elite.

Thaksin and his sister both live abroad to avoid convictions they say are politically motivated.

To off-set their electoral dominance, the ruling junta scripted a new constitution making the upper house entirely appointed, while limiting the number of constituency seats available at the March poll -- the first election since 2011.

If is banned it will "reduce the opportunity of the to have big numbers in parliament", said Titipol

Phakdeewanich, a at That would benefit the army-linked party and increase the likelihood of its prime ministerial candidate, junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha, of returning to power as a civilian leader.

Thais have struggled to digest what Ubolratana's short-lived foray into means for the kingdom, with analysts left open-jawed by the rare sight of palace intrigue playing out in public.

In an post late Tuesday apologised for her role in the drama, which has sent jitters across the politically febrile country. "I'm sorry that my genuine intention to help work for the country and fellow Thai people has created a problem that shouldn't happen in this era," she wrote.

It was tagged with a hashtag: "#howcomeitsthewayitis".

is the first-born of former Bhumibol Adulyadej, but she gave up her royal titles when she married an American in 1972. After her divorce she moved back to Thailand, where she is still regarded by the Thai public as a part of the royal family.

While she said she was exercising her rights as a commoner to stand for premier, the palace statement last week said she is "still a member of the House of Chakri", referring to the name of the dynasty.

The monarchy in is considered sacred and revered by its people, and is under the protection of draconian lese majeste laws. The king's word is considered final.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 13 2019. 14:25 IST