Pro-military party questions legality of princess's nomination

People Reform leader asks EC for a ruling

Paiboon Nititawan, centre, leader of the People Reform Party, speaks to the media after submitting a letter to the Election Commission asking if Thai Raksa Chart Party violated the law in nominating Princess Ubolratana as its prime ministerial candidate. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

The pro-military People Reform Party has asked the Election Commission to rule if the Thai Raksa Chart Party violated the election law in nominating Princess Ubolratana as its candidate for prime minister.

Party leader Paiboon Nititawan on Friday submitted a letter to the EC asking that it order Thai Raksa Chart to suspend its nomination of Princess Ubolratana.

He said Thai Raksa Chart might use the name of the princess for election campaigning. That would breach Section 17 of the election law, which bars candidates and political parties from using the monarchy for electioneering.

Although Princess Ubolratana, the elder sister of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn, relinquished her royal title in 1972, she was still part of the royal family, the People Reform Party leader said.

He said he had included a copy of the Constitutional Court’s opinion on the rights of people to exercise their voting rights with his letter to the EC. He quoted the court as saying the King, the Queen and members of the royal family from the rank of Mom Chao up were part of the royal institution and as such above politics and must stay neutral.

“The rank of nobility as written in some papers is another issue. The state of being a son and a daughter still exists in the royal institution though it is not in mentioned in the constitution. The fact is, Princess Ubolratana is respected and treated as part of the royal institution. Use of the royal institution by any political parties is prohibited. It goes against the law,’’ said Mr Paiboon.

The EC is required to endorse or reject all candidates by Feb 15, he said.

Thai Raksa Chart, a party linked to fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, officially registered the princess as its only candidate for prime minister on Friday morning. 

Thai Raksa Chart secretary-general Wim Rungwattanachinda said the party would not use pictures of the princess or her name for campaigning. 

The party would continue presenting its political platform while on the campaign trail, said Mr Wim.

"I assure you that the party will neither post images of the princess anywhere nor use them for campaigning,'' he said.

Palang Pracharath Party leader Uttama Savanayana declined to comment on its rival's nomination, saying all parties had the right to nominate prime ministerial candidates, as stated in the constitution.

His party nominated Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as its sole candidate, he said.

EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma on said on Friday political parties that registered candidates for prime minister with the EC could not withdraw them.

Section 13 of the constitution states that political parties can withdraw or change candidates nominated for prime minister only in the event someone dies or is disqualified, Pol Col Jarungvith said.

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