On Monday, February 11, Thailand's Election Commission officially disqualified Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya from contesting the upcoming March 24 elections. The Election Commission stated members of the royal family were ineligible from seeking public office. The decision follows King Maha Vajiralongkorn's statement on Friday, February 8, publicly denouncing Princess Ubolratana's bid, which the commission reportedly took into consideration during its ruling. Thai Raksa Chart, which put forth Princess Ubolratana's candidacy, indicated it would not challenge the decision.
Election officials also validated the candidacies of 69 people in the upcoming March 24 election, including that of current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Political and social tensions are expected to increase in the lead up to the general election, and political rallies are expected to draw an increased security presence.
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.
Until her disqualification, Princess Ubolratana was the first member of the Thai royal family to stand for elected office. Due to her disqualification, the Thai Raksa Chart party will be unable to field a candidate in the March 24 general election and may face legal action, including dissolution, for violating electoral laws by nominating Princess Ubolratana.
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 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.
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