Thailand’s constitutional court, and its 9 judges, have ruled in favour of Prayut Chan-o-cha, who can now return to Government House in his capacity as prime minister.
The Court ruled that Prayut “officially” became Thailand’s prime minister on April 6, 2017, in conjunction with the promulgation of the latest constitution. Even though Prayut had been serving in the role of PM since the coup in 2014, the 9 judges decided that he wasn’t, constitutionally, the prime minister until 2017.
The PM can now continue to serve as prime minister for the remainder of this parliament which is set to run until, at the latest, March 2023. If a new parliament were to re-elect Prayut into the position of prime minister, he could, constititutionally, serve until April 2025.
It’s D-Day for suspended PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, with a decision due today on whether his time is up as PM. Thai PBS World reports that tight security surrounds the Constitutional Court ahead of today’s decision.
The court and its offices have been declared restricted areas since 7pm last night and until 6am on Monday. Entry to the restricted areas has been limited to authorised people and their vehicles, with security guards conducting checks.
It’s understood the tight security measures have been put in place to prevent any possible disturbances ahead of or after the court’s ruling. According to the report, around 300 police officers are expected to be stationed in and around the court today.
Meanwhile, Parliament President Chuan Leekpai says that in the event the court rules that Prayut’s time is up, this will not cause a political vacuum, given that deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan is currently carrying out the role in an acting capacity.
Today’s ruling will be the culmination of a process that started last month, when opposition politicians petitioned the court to rule on Prayut’s term. Opposition parties claim that his time as PM began in August 2014, following the military coup in May of that year that ousted the government of then-PM, Yingluck Shinawatra.
The ruling from the court on whether Prayut Chan-o-cha has reached his 8-year limit as Thailand’s prime minister is expected later this afternoon.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World