Thailand's EC on course to disband Thai Raksa Chart party

Published Wed, Feb 13, 2019 · 08:50 AM

[BANGKOK] The party that nominated Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya as its candidate for prime minister should be disbanded, Thailand's Election Commission said.

The agency referred Thai Raksa Chart to the Constitutional Court for conduct that's "hostile toward the constitutional monarchy," according to a statement released by the commission on Wednesday in Bangkok. The court said it will decide tomorrow whether to accept the case.

"It's likely that the court will dissolve the party after this recommendation," said Paul Chambers, a lecturer at Naresuan University's College of Asean Community Studies in northern Thailand.

Thai Raksa Chart is linked to exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Dissolving it could anger his supporters and boost junta leader Prayuth Chan-Ocha's push to stay as prime minister after the general election due on March 24. The furor shows that political divisions are erupting again in Thailand ahead of a poll to end almost five years of military rule.

Foreign investors have sold a net 3 billion baht ($96 million) of Thai stocks since the political storm first broke last week, while the baht has weakened about 0.1 per cent against the dollar.

"We'll be asking the court to exercise our rights under the constitution," Preechaphol Pongpanit, party leader, told reporters. "We still don't have the details of the allegations or what's being submitted to the court. What we did started with good intentions, not bad intentions. I still stand by our position that we're innocent."

Mr Thaksin or his allies have won every election since 2001, only to be unseated by the courts or the military. Thai Raksa Chart and Pheu Thai are among the parties linked to the former premier. Regulators have suspended a television channel linked to him for 15 days.

Thai Raksa Chart on Feb 8 saw a stunning bid to make the princess its candidate rapidly unravel when King Maha Vajiralongkorn publicly opposed the move. His intervention, in a rare royal command, was broadcast across the nation late Friday.

Thailand officially treats top royals as semi-divine and apolitical. Princess Ubolratana wasn't in the final list of candidates for prime minister released by the Election Commission on Monday.

Late on Tuesday, the princess said in an Instagram post that she's sorry her "sincere intention to work for the country and Thai people created problems that shouldn't take place in this era."

Mr Thaksin's allies in Pheu Thai are seeking to woo voters with a plan to revive economic growth. Its deputy leader Kittiratt Na-Ranong said the party is "going forward in full gear" ahead of the election.


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