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Thailand's king has crushed the plans of his older sister to become a candidate for the country's prime minister.

In a statement read out on all television stations within hours of her candidacy, King Vajiralongkorn said it was "inappropriate" for members of the royal family to enter politics.

The princess was put forward by the Thai Raksa Chart party, steered by the divisive Shinawatra political clan, backed by Taskin Shinawatra - the former owner of Manchester City football club.

The list excluded 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.

Analysts say the king's intervention would in any case have been likely to have led to the election commission disqualifying her from the 24 March election.

She returned to Thailand in 2001 from the US after her divorce and has since regularly taken part in charity, social welfare and health-promoting events as well as anti-drug campaigns for youths.

Andrew MacGregor Marshall, a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University and expert in Thai politics, said that "when the military starts publicly insisting that no coup is coming, this is often a sign that they are about to seize power again".

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He however denied any involvement in last week's nomination of Princess Ubolratana as a candidate for prime minister.

Shortly after the king's statement she posted again without addressing the issue directly, simply thanking Thais for their support and saying that she wanted Thailand to "move forward and become admired and accepted by the global community".

Adding to the uncertainty, chatter of an impending coup against the ruling junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha and a major change in army top brass has billowed out, with the hashtag #coup trending in the top 10 in Thai Twitter.

Party leaders were not immediately available for comment and cancelled a press conference planned for Monday. The party was set up as an alternative to Thaksin's Pheu Thai Party, in case it were to be dissolved by election authorities ahead of the vote.

The panel did not mention a separate petition seeking to ban Thai Raksa Chart on the grounds that it violated election laws against using the monarchy in campaigning.

The Thai general election this year "had been broadly viewed as a straightforward battle between Thaksin's populists and their allies, on the one hand, and the royalist-military establishment on the other", according to CNA.

Thaksin, himself removed in a coup in 2006, lives in self-imposed exile after being convicted by a Thai court of corruption in absentia.


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