Thailand: PM Prayuth can stay in office, court says
Bangkok, Sep 30: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has not exceeded the constitutional term limit of eight years as his time as leader of a military government following a 2014 coup does not count, the country's Constitutional Court ruled on Friday.
The court had suspended Prayuth from his duties pending the ruling.
The opposition had filed the case, questioning whether Prayuth's time as head of the military junta counted to his overall tally of years in office. Prayuth officially became prime minister in the military government in August 2014, and was named prime minister again after a 2019 election.
The prime minister and his supporters argue that his term started to count only when the current constitution, which established the limit, came into effect in April 2017. In its ruling, the nine-member court concurred with that assessment.
That would allow Prayuth to serve until 2025 if he is reelected in the next general election.
What happens now?
A new election is to take place early next year that Prayuth might struggle to win, judging by current popularity ratings.
He has faced accusations from critics that he has mismanaged the economy and failed to respond adequately to the coronavirus pandemic in the early stages.
In 2020, tens of thousands of people called in sometimes violent street protests for the resignation of Prayuth and his Cabinet.
Authorities fear new protests in view of the court's ruling in Prayuth's favor.