Thai royalists launch political party to protect monarchy

BANGKOK, Jan 20 (Reuters) – An ultra-royalist group in Thailand on Wednesday launched a new political party to defend King Maha Vajiralongkorn, amid unprecedented calls for reform of the monarchy by a youth-led protest movement .

The “Thai Pakdee” (Loyal Thai) party is an offshoot of a royalist group of the same name formed last August to counter street protests with rallies in support of the king.

Veteran politician Warong Dechgitvigrom will lead the new party, which he says will fight political groups whose real intention was to overthrow the monarchy.

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“Before defending…today we declare war, we will fight to protect the monarchy,” Warong told a news conference.

Leaders of the protest movement have dismissed claims that the overthrow of the monarchy is their goal and have repeatedly said they want to make the institution more compatible with democracy.

Warong said the prominent opposition party, Move Forward, and its associated Progressive Movement group would be his party’s political rivals, along with youth-led groups he called “the three-fingered mob”. , referring to the “Hunger Games” salute. that they use in their campaign.

In a statement, Warong said his party does not have the support of any particular group or company and will belong to the people.

He did not name other members, but said the electoral commission had been informed of its formation and that leaders would be selected soon.

Progressive politician Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, however, warned that the new party risked associating the monarchy with domestic politics.

“Forming a party that advocates protecting the monarchy, whether out of good intentions or to destroy others, could only bring the monarchy into the political sphere,” Piyabutr said on his official Twitter account.

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Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Martin Petty

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