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8 March, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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BID TO FRONT PRINCESS AS PM CANDIDATE

Shinawatra-linked party dissolved by Thai court

AFP, Bangkok
Shinawatra-linked party dissolved by Thai court
Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechaphol Pongpanich (C) speaks to journalists after the Constitutional Court ruling to dissolve the party in Bangkok yesterday. AFP Photo

A key party linked to Thailand’s powerful Shinawatra clan was dissolved yesterday by a court, just weeks before a general election, over its ill-starred bid to front a princess as a candidate for premier. Thai Raksa Chart, which is tied to ex-premiers Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra, proposed Princess Ubolratana as its prime ministerial candidate if its bloc emerged with a lower house majority after the March 24 election.

It was an unprecedented move in a constitutional monarchy where royals are officially above the political fray, and prompted a rare public rebuke by her younger brother, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who issued a royal command declaring the party’s move “inappropriate”.

The Election Commission alleged that Thai Raksa Chart had committed an act “hostile to the constitutional monarchy” and called for its dissolution.

On Thursday judges of the Constitutional Court voted unanimously to dissolve the party, and its executives—including two Shinawatra family members—were also banned from politics for a decade.

“The monarchy is above politics and to maintain political neutrality, the king, the queen and princesses can never exercise political rights by casting votes,” judge Nakharin Mektrairat said at the end of an extensive ruling.

The princess reacted to the news on Instagram, where she posts regularly.

“I have heard the news. It is sad and depressing,” she said.

Dissolution is a blow to the prospects of the powerful Shinawatras winning a parliamentary majority at the polls.

Thai Raksa Chart was established to back up the Shinawatras’ main political vehicle Pheu Thai, which won the 2011 elections with a landslide.

Conversely, its downfall—the party lasted just four months—is a major fillip to its army-allied rivals who are fielding current junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha as their candidate for premier. Thai Raksa Chart was set to compete in 174 constituencies with 108 candidates vying for seats through the party list—a system to allocate extra parliamentary seats according to the proportion of votes they scoop up. Grim-faced party executives, all dressed in black suits and led by party chief Preechapol Pongpanich, filed out of the Constitutional Court through the ranks of media.

Fighting back tears, Preechapol told reporters the party was “extremely saddened” by the dissolution, a ruling which “will affect the rights and freedoms” of candidates and voters.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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