Thailand's dissolved Thai Raksa Chart party vows to oppose junta's election bid

Thai Raksa Chart's campaign strategist Chaturon Chaisang greeting Thais in Bangkok, on Feb 20, 2019 PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) - The former members of a dissolved Thai opposition political party said they will carry on trying to block the military government's effort to retain power in the general election.

Using the umbrella term "Moving Forward for Democracy", the ex-leaders of Thai Raksa Chart said they will campaign publicly for the full restoration of democracy in South-east Asia's second-largest economy.

They will study poll rules to see what is permissible following the party's break up, Chaturon Chaisang, who was Thai Raksa Chart's campaign strategist, said at a briefing Saturday (March 9) in Bangkok.

A court on Thursday ordered the dissolution of Thai Raksa Chart for conduct deemed hostile to the constitutional monarchy. It ruled that the party broke rules by picking Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya as its prime ministerial candidate on Feb 8.

The nomination rapidly unravelled the same day when her brother King Maha Vajiralongkorn publicly said the spirit of the charter prevents top royals from holding political office.

Thai Raksa Chart is linked to exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as is the main opposition Pheu Thai party.

Electoral Tactics

Pheu Thai isn't fielding candidates in all constituencies and Thai Raksa Chart was expected to help fill that gap, part of a strategy to maximise votes for Thaksin's allies.

Members of the defunct party now plan to encourage supporters to use the "vote no" option in ballots, which would require a rerun of polling in constituencies where the "no" option is the most popular, the Bangkok Post reported, citing an anonymous source.

Pheu Thai could then field candidates in those areas, according to the report.

Thaksin or his supporters have won every election since 2001 only to be unseated either by force or the courts, part of a long tussle for power with the military and royalist elite.

Thailand's general election is due on March 24 after almost five years of military rule, with junta leader and former army chief Prayut Chan-o-cha seeking to return as premier.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.