BANGKOK — The fate of a political party allied to former leader Thaksin Shinawatra hangs in the balance as officials were meeting Monday to decide whether the party should be disbanded.
In a legal backlash against the Thai Raksa Chart Party for nominating Princess Ubolratana to run in the upcoming election – an action blocked Friday night by His Majesty the King – the Election Commission is now investigating it for breaking a voting law which bans drawing the monarchy into politics, unnamed sources told the media.
If the party is found to be in violation, the commission will send the case to the Constitutional Court, which has the authority to disband guilty parties. Such disbandment would also impose a five-year political activity ban on the party’s executives.
It is unclear when the commissioners will reach their conclusion.
The party stunned the country by nominating the 67-year-old royalty as its prime minister candidate on Friday morning. Ubolratana later posted on Instagram that she’s running in the poll as a commoner, having relinquished her royal status in 1972 to marry an American man.
But His Majesty the King issued a royal decree later that day identifying Ubolratana as a royal family member. For its rationale, the decree stated that Ubolratana continued to live and work as a revered member of the Chakri dynasty after her resignation.
King Vajilralongkorn’s statement immediately sparked legal and political repercussions against Thai Raksa Chart, with many pro-establishment figures clamoring for its dissolution.
“If they used the surname Shinawatra [for campaigning] … they are free to do so,” former Senator Kaewsan Atibodhi wrote online Sunday. “But this is an exploitation of the monarchy’s influence. This is where they are wrong: for daring to immorally abuse the monarchy’s influence to seek their own power.”
Even transparency campaigner Srisuwan Janya, who has made himself a public enemy of the ruling junta for the past years, urged the Election Commission to disband Thai Raksa Chart for nominating the princess to the premiership.
One of Thai Raksa Chart executives also resigned from the party leadership on Monday. Speaking to reporters, Rungruang Pittiyasiri said he disagreed with his former party’s nomination of Princess Ubolratana.
Thai Raksa Chart executives on Saturday issued a statement accepting the king’s decision but would not comment any further. All party canvassing activities were cancelled in the wake of King Vajiralongkorn’s decree.
If disbanded, the pro-Thaksin faction would lose more than 200 MP candidates fielded by Thai Raksa Chart.