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Thai King Dashes Sister’s Political Dreams

Thailand’s king has crushed the plans of his older sister to become a candidate for the country’s prime minister.

The Thai Raksa Chart party had announced Friday that Princess Ubolratana, who is 67, would be the party’s prime minister nominee for the March 24 election.

The political hopes of the princess were dashed almost immediately when her younger brother, the king, issued a terse statement saying his sister’s candidacy was “highly inappropriate” and went against tradition and national culture.

On Saturday, the Thai Raksa Chart party swore loyalty to the king, saying in a statement that it “complies with the royal command.”

Puangthong Pawakapan, professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University, told the French news agency AFP that the king’s disapproval invalidated his sister’s candidacy.

In an Instagram post Saturday, the princess, without mentioning her brother or her dashed political plans, thanked her supporters for their “love and kindness” and expressed a desire to see the country expand rights and opportunities for citizens.

Thailand will hold elections on March 24, the first since a 2014 military coup. The takeover resulted in the installation of a junta intent on eradicating the influence of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose allies have won every national election since 2001.

Since Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in 2006, Thailand’s establishment has had little success in trying to weaken his political machine with constitutional amendments, court rulings and changes to the electoral system.  

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. His alleged involvement rattled royalists who see their campaign against Thaksin as a way to protect the monarchy.

As a candidate, Ubolratana would have attempted to oust junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the preferred choice of the military.

Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932.

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