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

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.


Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

Updated 46 min 43 sec ago

Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

  • The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year
  • The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest

NEW DELHI: An alleged rape victim in northern India who was set on fire while heading to a court hearing in the case has died in a New Delhi hospital, officials said Saturday.
The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year, police said. The two were out of custody on bail.
Five men were arrested in connection with the burn attack, police said.
The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest, said Dr. Shalab Kumar, head of the hospital’s burn unit.
Yogi Adityanath, the state’s chief minister, said that the case would be heard in a fast track court and that the “strictest of punishment will be given to the culprits.”
Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary of the opposition Congress party, faulted the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for failing to provide the woman with security, even after a similar case in the state in which a woman who accused a BJP lawmaker of rape was severely injured in a vehicle hit-and-run incident.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is known for its poor record regarding crimes against women. According to the most recent available official crime records, police registered more than 4,200 cases of rape in the state in 2017 — the most in India.
Government figures for 2017 also show that police registered 33,658 cases of rape in the country. But the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don’t report cases to police due to fear.
Indian courts also seem to be struggling to deal with these cases. Data shows that more than 90% of cases of crimes against women are pending in city courts.
The burn victim’s death came on the same day police in the southern state of Telangana fatally shot four men being held on suspicion of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian after investigators took them to the crime scene. Their deaths drew both praise and condemnation in a case that has sparked protests across the country.
The woman’s burned corpse was found last week by a passer-by near the city of Hyderabad, India’s tech hub, after she went missing the previous night.
Police took the four suspects, who had not been charged with any crime, to the scene to help them locate the victim’s phone and other items, officials said. They said the men grabbed police firearms and began shooting, and were killed when police returned fire.
The Telangana High Court ordered authorities to preserve the bodies of the suspects and submit a video of the autopsies ahead of a court hearing set for Monday.
Separately, the National Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous body within India’s Parliament, sent a fact-finding mission to the crime scene and mortuary where the suspects’ bodies were held on Saturday amid questions from opposition lawmakers about the circumstances of the suspects’ deaths.