Thailand’s junta chief on Monday dismissed rumours of an impending coup as “fake news”, as speculation ricocheted across a kingdom unsettled by the ill-fated political union between a princess and a party allied to the powerful Shinawatra clan.Conjecture has coursed through Thailand since Friday when the Thai Raksa Chart party proposed Princess Ubolratana, King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s elder sister, as a candidate for premier after the March 24 election. Hours later, a royal command from the king appeared to put a pin in her unprecedented political aspirations.It said the monarchy was above politics and described his sister’s candidacy as “highly inappropriate”. The slapdown by an unassailable monarch – protected by some of the world’s harshest royal defamation laws – who has never addressed the public in such strong terms, set off a chain reaction.A chastened Thai Raksa Chart, a key pillar in the election strategy of billionaire ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, swiftly agreed to comply with the command. Election authorities meeting Monday are expected to discuss whether the use of the princess’s name was unconstitutional, a first step towards dissolving the party.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. Published in Daily Times, February 12th 2019.