Tuesday, September 26, 2023
HomeUncategorizedThai court suspends PM Prayut pending term limit review

Thai court suspends PM Prayut pending term limit review

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s Constitutional Court suspended Prime Minister Prayuth Prayut on Wednesday after deciding to hear a petition calling for a review of its statutory eight-year term limit.

The main opposition party’s petition argues that Prayut’s time as head of the military junta should count towards his eight-year term under the constitution after he staged a coup when he was army chief of staff in 2014.

While Prayuth could reinstate him when the court rules, the unexpected suspension has thrown Thai politics into chaos.

“The court has considered the petition and related documents and considers the facts in the petition to be grounds for challenge as required,” it said.

Prayuth has 15 days to respond, the court told the media in a statement, adding that a panel of judges ruled five to four in favor of his suspension, starting Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Bhawi Wan Suwan is expected to take over as interim leader, another deputy prime minister, Wissanu Krea-ngam, told reporters on Monday.

It is not clear when the court will make a final decision on the petition.

Prayut served as Chairman of the Military Council after the overthrow of the democratically elected government in 2014.

He became the civilian prime minister in 2019 after elections held under the 2017 military-drafted constitution.

Thailand’s next general election will be held in May next year.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said Prayuth respects the court’s decision and has ceased active duty, adding The suspension will not have an impact on the government’s work.

“Prime Minister Prayuth also urged the people to respect the court’s decision and refrain from criticizing a decision that could further divide,” he said.

On request in its comments, the main opposition party argued that Prayuth should step down this month because his time as head of the junta should be counted toward his term.

Nearly two-thirds of Thais also want Prayut this month, a recent poll showed.

But some supporters argue that his term begins after the new constitution takes effect in 2017 or after the 2019 election, meaning he should be allowed to remain in power until 2025 or 2027, if elected.


The controversy is the latest in a country that has suffered intermittent political turmoil for nearly two decades, including two coups and violent protests , broadly stemming from opposition to military participation in politics and the demand for greater representation as political awareness increases.

Pro-democracy activists oppose Prayut and his government, arguing that the 2019 elections are illegitimate.

But student-led demonstrations have faded in past couples over the years with the COVID-19 ban on gatherings. But activists gathered again this week in anticipation of the court’s verdict.

Nearly 100 pro-democracy protesters at the Democracy Monument in central Bangkok welcomed Prayuth’s suspension but said it was not enough.

“We are not only content to suspend Prayuth, we want to dissolve parliament and call early elections,” said a female activist who identified herself as Manee.

“We are not happy. Prayuth stole power from a woman and became prime minister in a coup,” she said, referring to Yingluck Sina, who was ousted in 2014 Watts, sister of former prime minister and telecom tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra.

Yingluck and Thaksin both went into self-imposed exile abroad.

“Forward” Opposition Leader Pita Rinjalongla has called for a swift ruling on Prayuth’s fate.

“The law on this issue is not complicated,” he told reporters in parliament. “If the Constitutional Court can rule quickly, the government vacuum we fear will be short-lived.”

(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat, Panu Wongch-um; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor, Robert Birsel; Kay Johnson and Edited by Clarence Fernandez)



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