Thailand's junta chief yesterday 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 yesterday disqualified Princess Ubolratana for running for prime minister, ending her brief and ill-fated political union with Thai Raksa Char party allied to the powerful Shinawatra clan.
But the gruff former general, who masterminded a putsch against the government of Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister, in 2014, tried to stop it short.
"Rumours...? We're investigating. Fake news," he told reporters at Government House about the merits of the speculation.