Princess Ubolratana: Thai royal to stand as PM candidate

281

International desk, Feb 08: In an unprecedented move, the sister of Thailand’s king has joined the race to be the country’s next prime minister.Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, 67, will stand for a party allied to divisive ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, according to registration papers, BBC reported.

Her decision breaks with the tradition of the Thai royal family publicly staying out of politics.

Thailand’s election is scheduled to take place on 24 March.

The election is being closely watched as the first chance for Thailand to return to democracy after five years under military rule.

Who is Princess Ubolratana Mahidol?

Born in 1951, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi is the oldest child of Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and after marrying an American in 1972, she gave up her royal title. After her divorce she returned to Thailand in 2001 and once again started participating in royal life.

The princess engages actively in social media and has also starred in several Thai movies.

She has three children, one of whom died in the 2004 tsunami. The other two now also live in Thailand.

The princess has registered for the Thai Raksa Chart party, which is loyal to the controversial Shinawatra family that has dominated Thai politics for years.

Who else is running in the election?

The country’s current prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, also announced on Friday that he would be running for prime minister in the current election.

The army chief, who seized power in a military coup in 2014, will be running as a candidate for the pro-military Palang Pracharat party.

But the royal family is revered in Thailand and rarely criticised, so there are questions around whether any other candidate would want to challenge a member of the royal family.