Thai Raksa Chart, an opposition party to Thailand’s military junta, on Friday nominated the country's Princess Ubolratana Mahidol as its prime ministerial candidate for the Mar. 24 elections, the first since the 2014 coup.
A delegation of the party showed photographs of the 67-year-old elder sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in the documentation presented at the headquarters of the Election Commission before the Friday deadline for the registration of candidates.
Thai Raksa Chart is one of the parties linked to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Formations linked to the him have won every election since 2001, including the Pheu Thai Party whose government along with his sister Yingluck Shinawatra as prime minister, was ousted in the last coup. Thaksin and Yingluck now live in self-imposed exile.
“The Thai Raksa Chart Party is deeply honored to have received Ubolratana Mahidol’s kindness in accepting the party’s nomination to be prime minister,” the party said in a statement.
It highlighted the princess' United States education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and UC Los Angeles, her leading a “commoner's life by working to pay for her tuition” there, and renouncing her royal title in 1972 (after marrying an American), as well as her work on various social projects since she returned to Thailand.
“She concluded that it’s time to volunteer to serve as prime minister, assisting the country and the people by utilizing the knowledge and abilities she accumulated over the years in various aspects both locally and abroad,” the statement added.
The princess' nomination was announced minutes before Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, 64, announced his candidacy to head the next government.
In a speech at Government House, Prayut said that he accepted the nomination of Phalang Pracharat Party, which is led by several former ministers of his government.
The military junta announced elections in January after several delays and after being in power for nearly five years, during which time it approved a new Constitution that narrows the scope of an elected government’s power.
Thailand has seen 20 successful and attempted coups since the abolition of the absolute monarchy in 1932.