Former members of a Thai political party disbanded for nominating a princess for prime minister vowed Saturday to carry on in their campaign to restore full civilian rule in parliamentary elections later this month.
“The continuation of the military government will not improve our citizens’ economic livelihood,” former Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang told a news conference here with former deputy minister of commerce Nattawut Saikua and other ex-officials of Thai Raksa Chart. Rallies are planned for at least four locations in the lead-up to the March 24 vote.
The Constitutional Court on Thursday ordered Thai Raksa Chart to disband for violating the constitution by nominating Princess Ubolratana as its candidate for prime minister. The court also barred party executives from politics for 10 years. Chaturon cannot run in this month’s elections.
By maintaining a high-profile presence during the campaign, the group hopes to limit the damage to the allies of ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra trying to unseat the junta.
Positioning itself as a pro-democracy coalition, the Thaksin faction has long resisted the military government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. The former Thai Raksa Chart officials said Saturday that they will put out a call to vote for a pro-democracy party.
They declined to name another party they will support, but likely candidates would be the Pheu Thai Party, a fellow pro-Thaksin party, or the Future Forward Party, a newcomer that has gained traction with young voters.
Since Prayuth seized power in a 2014 coup, the junta has rolled out measures that put pro-Thaksin forces at a disadvantage in contests for the 500 lower house seats, making the outcome of the upcoming elections uncertain.
Thai Raksa Chart attempted to win votes by putting up Princess Ubolratana, who gave up her royal title decades ago, for prime minister. But her brother the king called her candidacy inappropriate, and Thursday’s court ruling knocked roughly 280 candidates out of the running.
Backers of the government are going on the offensive. The Palang Pracharath Party, the core pro-junta party, plans to campaign heavily in pro-Thaksin strongholds in the northeast and north, starting Saturday. Prayuth, its nominee for prime minister, will soon visit these regions to tout achievements on his watch.