Poll agency seeks dissolution of party

Poll agency seeks dissolution of party

Thailand's election commission said on Wednesday it was seeking the disqualification of a party that nominated a princess for the Prime Minister, in what would be a setback for the Opposition loyal to ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thailand will hold a general election on March 24, its first since a military coup in 2014. The contest looks set to be a showdown between the military-backed, royalist Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and supporters of Thaksin. Last week, a party allied with Thaksin said its candidate for Prime Minister, if it won the election, would be Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, the king's older sister.

The announcement caused a sensation in a country where the royal family has traditionally remained above politics. Hours later, King Maha Vajiralongkorn made clear his opposition to his elder sister's political foray, calling it "inappropriate" and unconstitutional.

Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932, but the royal family wields great influence and commands widespread devotion, with the king considered to be semi-divine.

The election commission disqualified the princess on Monday and on Wednesday said it also aimed to dissolve the Thai Raksa Chart party, which nominated her.

The party was one of several set up by Thaksin loyalists as back-up parties in case his main Pheu Thai party is disqualified for some reason.
The election commission said in a statement the Thai Raksa Chart party had violated an electoral law with its nomination of the king's sister, which was "antagonistic toward the constitutional monarchy".

"Therefore, it is agreed that a petition will be submitted to the Constitutional Court to consider dissolving the Thai Raksa Chart Party," it said in a statement. Thai Raksa Chart officials told reporters the party did not violate the electoral law and it would ask the Constitutional Court to be "merciful". The court said it would decide on Thursday whether or not to accept the case. 

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