Thai Princess Ubolratana officially nominated as PM candidate

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It was the latest event to roil Thailand, which has been buffeted by coups, political comebacks and street violence for more than a decade.

Thai Raksa Chart party selected Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, the princess as its nominee to serve as the next prime minister, upending tradition that the royal palace plays no public role in politics and upsetting all predictions about what may happen in the March election.

Prayuth led the coup in May 2014 and later became prime minister.

Ubolratana's nomination must still be accepted by the Thai election commission.

Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932 but the royal family has wielded great influence and commanded the devotion of millions.

The nomination of a member of the royal family by the pro-Thaksin Thai Raksa Chart party could transform an election that had been viewed as a straightforward battle between Thaksin's populists and their allies, on the one hand, and the royalist-military establishment on the other. She lost her special royal titles more than four decades ago when she married a commoner, an American, but is still called and widely regarded as a princess.

DW: Princess Ubolratana Mahidol has announced that she would like to become the next prime minister of Thailand.

The long-delayed election will be the first since former army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha seized power in a coup in 2014 after a period of unrest, becoming the leader of the country's military government.

Ubolratana´s nomination has electrified the buildup to a March 24 election which had seemed poised to return the junta and its proxies to power in some form.

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Thailand also has a draconian lese majeste law which punishes defamation of the immediate royal family with up to 15 years in prison. While it does not technically apply to Ubolratana, who lost her highest royal titles when she married an American more than four decades ago, its scope has been widened in recent years to nearly anything that sullies the royal institution, making criticism of the princess highly problematical. "I only want to work for the benefits of the country and the people", he added.

Parliament has had members who were distant relatives of the monarch. Princess Ubolratana still performed activities on behalf of the royal family, as well as being a beloved daughter of late King Bhumibol and a respected member of the royal family. "I believe there will be no legal problems in terms of her qualification, but we have to wait for the Election Commission to endorse her candidacy", Mr Preechapol said. Now you can't follow her unless you were following her prior to that change.

Ubolratana, a popular and public-facing royal, relinquished her royal titles after marrying the American Peter Jensen in 1972.

Since then she has thrown herself into charity work, especially her "To Be No. 1" foundation to fight youth drug abuse. She also frequently promotes Thai tourism and movies at worldwide forums.

Yet a small party that supports the junta later Friday submitted a letter to the Election Commission objecting to the nomination of the princess, saying it should be suspended as it could violate election law.

But her bid to enter politics - and thereby break a long-standing tradition of the royalty - looked likely to be cut short just hours after it had begun. Still, their parties have won every election since 2001.

The conflict between the Bangkok-centred, royalist elites and Thaksin and his more rural-based supporters has resulted in street protests, military coups, and violent clashes over nearly 15 years. Has been in exile since 2008 to avoid serving jail time on a corruption conviction he insists was politically motivated.

Thaksin's well-funded political machine returned to power twice since and is seen as the key element in arranging for Ubolratana's selection because she cast her lot with a Thaksin-affiliated party. These links were formed as royalists and others loyal to Bhumibol accused Thaksin of showing disrespect for the throne, and even of harboring secret republican tendencies.

Since ascending the throne in 2016, Vajiralongkorn has reorganised palace affairs.