Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has been suspended by the Thai Constitutional Court after it accepted a petition by the opposition party pointing out that he has completed his full legally-mandated term.
Prayuth became prime minister after he staged a military coup in 2014 when he was the army chief. He has been prime minister since then, retaining the office through a restricted election in 2019. According to Thailand’s constitution, a prime minister’s term is limited to eight years in office.
The opposition has argued that Prayuth’s time as the head of the military junta following the 2014 coup should count towards the legally mandated eight-year term. In a surprise move, the Thai Constitutional Court accepted the petition and ruled five to four in favor of his immediate suspension.
“The court has considered the petition and related documents and sees that the facts from the petition are cause for questioning as demanded,” the court statement said, adding that Prayuth had 15 days to respond. Prayuth’s supporters, however, argue that his term officially began in 2017, when a new constitution was framed, or even 2019 when elections were held. As per this view, Prayuth could continue serving as prime minister till 2027.
Prayuth has been facing intense criticism and backlash since long. Hehas survived multiple votes of no-confidence against him this year alone. It remains to be seen when the court will announce its verdict on the review of the limit of his term.