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Thai princess' bid for PM scuttled as party obeys royal command

AFP  |  Bangkok 

A new Thai political party vowed Saturday to obey a command from the blocking the candidacy of a for in a dramatic reversal that appeared to boost the junta's chances ahead of March elections.

The announcement effectively blocks Ubolratana's unprecedented bid for the premiership and comes after an extraordinary rebuke of the candidacy by her younger brother,

The Thai Raksa Chart party, affiliated with the powerful Shinawatra political clan, announced the as their candidate on Friday morning.

The move looked to rattle the status quo and threaten the ambitions of the junta that has ruled since it toppled the administration of in a 2014 coup.

But the Thai torpedoed the bid in a sharply worded statement the same day that said bringing senior royal family members into politics is against tradition, national culture and "highly inappropriate." Thai Raksa Chart responded swiftly, cancelling a campaign event on Saturday and issuing a statement saying it would respect "tradition and royal customs".

"complies with the royal command", it said. has some of the most severe lese majeste laws in the world and the king's word is considered final.

Royalist Thais and celebrities praised the intervention on after the order, writing "long live the king".

Analysts believe the events that unfolded over the past day will help the junta consolidate power and tilt the odds in favour of Prayut Chan-O-Cha.

Prayut is standing as for the Phalang Pracharat party, a group aligned with the regime.

The military has "gained the upper hand", said from Thammasat University, adding that it is poised to perform well in the upcoming vote. The election on March 24 is the first since the 2014 coup.

Even before Thai Raksa Chart's reversal, many warned the palace statement had scuttled the princess' chances.

"The palace disapproval invalidates her candidacy," said Puangthong Pawakapan, of political science at

is a constitutional monarchy and has not had a royal run for frontline office since 1932.

The 67-year-old princess did not address the royal rebuke head-on when she thanked supporters on Saturday on her widely followed account, saying vaguely that she wanted Thailand to "move forward".

The king did not criticise the princess directly and seemed to focus blame on political party members who brought her on board.

Thai Raksa Chart is aligned with Yingluck and her brother Thaksin, who was ousted by the in 2006.

Both live in self-exile to avoid charges they say are politically motivated.

Observers assumed and the party would not have taken the princess on board without royal approval.

But the bold play appears to have backfired dramatically on

"After last night the king's intervention had an effect of discrediting Thaksin," Anusorn said.

gave up her royal titles when she married an American decades ago, but they divorced and she moved back to Thailand.

The first-born of the former king is an unusually public figure for a royal, having starred in movies and dished out advice to nearly 100,000 followers on

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

First Published: Sat, February 09 2019. 13:55 IST