On Friday, February 8, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya declared her candidacy for Prime Minister in the upcoming March 24 elections, becoming the first member of the Thai royal family to run for elected office. Princess Ubolratana will represent the Thai Raksa Chart Party, which includes supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a coup d'état in 2006. King Maha Vajiralongkorn subsequently called Princess Ubolratana's bid "inappropriate" prompting concerns that the Electoral Commission might invalidate her candidacy. The Electoral Commission is expected to rule on the validity of her candidacy as well as those of all other candidates by Friday, February 15. Political and social tensions are expected to increase in the lead up to the general election. Any rallies organized by Princess Ubolratana are expected to draw an increased security presence and scrutiny due to strict laws governing the publicity of the royal family.
Thailand has been ruled by a military junta since a coup in 2014 ousted the civilian government. The military announced plans for general elections in December 2018 following the lifting of a ban on political organizing and political assembly and campaigning. The Election Commission of Thailand has announced that general elections will be held on March 24. The poll will mark the first national election held in the country since the 2014 coup ousted the civilian government of Yingluck Shinawatra. The political parties now have until March 23 to campaign.
The military government (National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO]) delayed the election several times for various reasons after overthrowing Yingluck's government in 2014, citing the need for peace and order after months of street protests. In April 2017, a new constitution drafted by the NCPO was promulgated, deciding, among other stipulations, that the NCPO will come to an end when a cabinet established after the first general election under this constitution takes office.
Individuals present in Thailand are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.