Thailand election panel disqualifies princess as PM candidate

The princess was nominated by Raksa Chart party. Above, a representative of the party hold the registration document submitted to nominate Ubolratana. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2019
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Thailand election panel disqualifies princess as PM candidate

  • The election panel published the list of candidates for prime minister without the princess’ name
  • The princess was nominated by a populist movement party, which supported the ousted Thaksin Shinawatra

BANGKOK: Thailand’s election panel on Monday disqualified the sister of the king from running for prime minister, putting an end to a stunning, short-lived candidacy by echoing King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s words that royalty should be “above politics.”
The Election Commission released the official list of parties’ candidates for prime minister without the name of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, 67, the king’s elder sister.
The list left out Ubolratana “because every member of the royal family comes within the application of the same rule requiring the monarch to be above politics and to be politically neutral,” the panel said in a statement after a meeting.
The princess had accepted the nomination of the Thai Raksa Chart party, a populist movement drawn from supporters of ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been at the center of nearly 15 years of turmoil in Thai politics.
The March 24 elections are the first since a 2014 military coup toppled a pro-Thaksin government. Among the candidates for prime minister is the current junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, who as army chief led the coup.
Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932, but the royal family wields great influence and commands the devotion of millions of Thais, with the king considered to be semi-divine.
Ubolratana’s surprise nomination broke with a tradition for members of the royal family to stay out of politics.
However, in a statement read on all Thai television stations within hours of her announcement as a candidate, King Vajiralongkorn said it was “inappropriate” and unconstitutional for members of the royal family to enter politics.
The commission is also considering a complaint seeking to ban the Thai Raksa Chart party but did not mention the petition on Monday.


Pakistani prime minister says time for dialogue to resolve all issues with India

Updated 23 March 2019
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Pakistani prime minister says time for dialogue to resolve all issues with India

  • Khan welcomes Indian prime minister Modi’s message to the people of Pakistan on Pakistan Day
  • Says time to forge a new relationship based on peace and prosperity

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday welcomed a message from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Pakistan Day and said it was time to begin a dialogue to resolve all issues.

Nuclear-armed neighbors Pakistan and India have fought three wars since gaining independence from British rule in 1947, two of them over Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region that both claim in full but govern in part.

Tensions between the arch-rivals rose sharply last month over a suicide attack in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir in which at least 40 paramilitary troopers were killed. As India launched airstrikes in Pakistan and Pakistan retaliated with strikes of its own, the possibility of all-out war seemed all too real.

“I welcome PM Modi's message to our people,” Khan said in a Twitter post. “As we celebrate Pakistan Day I believe it is time to begin a comprehensive dialogue with India to address & resolve all issues, esp the central issue of Kashmir, & forge a new relationship based on peace & prosperity for all our people.”

In a separate post, Khan said he had received the following message from Modi on the occasion of Pakistan Day, celebrated across the country to mark the anniversary of a 1940 resolution calling for a separate homeland for Muslims in India:

"I extend my greetings & best wishes to the people of Pakistan on the National Day of Pakistan. It is time that ppl of Sub-continent work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive & prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence.”

Last year, soon after being elected as prime minister, Khan proposed talks to resolve the long-standing dispute over Kashmir and said Pakistan was ready to respond positively to any effort at dialogue.

“If India comes and takes one step toward us, we will take two,” Khan said after the July general election.

But in September, New Delhi called off a meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, just a day after confirming it, citing “unclean intentions” on Pakistan’s side.

India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants fighting Indian rule in the Indian administered Kashmir. Pakistan denies this, saying it only provides diplomatic and moral support to people in Indian-held Kashmir fighting for self-determination.