BANGKOK - Thailand's Princess Ubolratana, King Maha Vajiralongkorn's elder sister, was on Friday nominated as prime minister for the March 24 general election by Thai Raksa Chart, a party founded by allies of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
It is the first time in the country's history that a member of the royal family is to run for office and become directly involved in politics.
"The Thai Raksa Chart Party is highly honored by Princess Ubolratana's bid for the party's prime ministerial nomination," the party said in a statement.
"The Princess has worked to promote Thailand's tourism industry for up to 10 years. She deems it appropriate timing to volunteer to work as a prime minister to help the people and the country," the party added.
The 67-year-old princess was stripped of her royal title when she married a U.S. national in 1972. She returned to Thailand in the late 1990s after getting a divorce. Although her formal title was not restored, she is regarded and treated as royalty by the Thai people.
Ubolratana is also known as a long-time friend of the Shinawatra family, which has an influence on the upcoming election through its proxy political parties without fielding a direct family member this time.
Friday was the last day political parties can nominate their prime minister candidates. Each party is allowed to nominate up to three people.
The princess' prime ministerial bid was heavily rumored earlier this week but there was no confirmation until Friday.
Ubolratana has yet to make any comment on the nomination. But she posted photos on her Instagram page saying she was in the northern city of Chiang Mai along with the cryptic message "we will walk together."
Political analysts see the shocking move to further complicate politics in the Southeast Asian country ahead of its first election since the 2014 coup and return to democracy.
"Thai politics' fault line has been drawn on the monarchy. (Now) the era of the so-called 'monarchy above politics' is officially over," said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a political scientist lecturer at Kyoto University.
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