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Thai princess thanks people after king opposes her prime minister candidacy

File photo of Thai Princess Ubolratana. Photograph:( Reuters )

Agencia EFE Bangkok, Thailand Feb 09, 2019, 10.17 PM (IST)

The Thai princess who has announced she was running for prime ministerŽs post and was quickly opposed by her brother, the king, on Saturday thanked the people of Thailand for their support.

In a message that sounded like a farewell posted on her Instagram account, Princess Ubolratana, 67, did not comment on her candidature that was called "inappropriate" by the monarch, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 66.

The princess said she was grateful to the Thai people for their "love and support," adding she would like to see the country make progress and all its citizens enjoy their rights and opportunities for happiness and well-being.

Ubolratana relinquished her royal titles in 1972 at the time of her marriage to an American, but following her divorce in 1998, she returned permanently to Thailand and has since enjoyed the due recognition of her lineage.

On Friday, she was nominated as the prime ministerial candidate of the Thai Raksa Chart party, opposed to the military junta currently ruling the country.

The Thai Raksa Chart party has been linked to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been living in exile after he who was ousted by the military in a 2005 coup.

Around 12 hours after the nomination for her candidature was filed before the authorities, the king made a rare intervention by saying that his sister's unprecedented involvement in politics was unconstitutional.

"A prominent member of the royal family becoming involved in politics, no matter how, goes against tradition," the king said in a statement, adding "it is deemed extremely inappropriate."

The disapproval of the king - who, according to local laws, serves as a guide to the nation and cannot be questioned - practically scuttles Ubolratana's bid for the office of prime minister.

On February 15, the Election Commission is scheduled to announce the official lists for the elections and decide on a recourse presented by the pro-military group against the nomination of a member of the royal family.

The Thai Raksa Chart cancelled Ubolratana's campaign events planned for Saturday.

The unexpected nomination of Ubolratana posed a turnaround in the political scenario in Thailand ahead of the March 24 general elections, in which the head of the junta and current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha will seek another term.

The Puea Thai party, headed by Shinawatra, has won every election that has been held since 2001. Shinawatra's sister Yingluck was prime minister when the government was overthrown in a coup in 2014.

The elections, which were postponed several times by the military junta, will be held to elect 500 members of the House of Representatives - the lower house. Some 375 of them will be chosen directly through constituency elections, while 125 will be elected through party-list proportional representation.

The Senate - the upper house - will be formed of 250 legislators appointed by the military junta, and will take part in voting in the parliament to elect a new prime minister, according to the new Constitution drafted by the junta and approved in a referendum in 2017.

Story highlights

The unexpected nomination of Ubolratana posed a turnaround in the political scenario in Thailand ahead of the March 24 general elections, in which the head of the junta and current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha will seek another term.