Thailand: Suspended, the prime minister determined his fate on Friday

Thailand: Suspended, the prime minister determined his fate on Friday

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who has been suspended since August 24 while waiting to find out whether or not he can remain in power, will be decided on his fate by the Constitutional Court on Friday.

The court will decide whether the ruler, who was confirmed by the king on August 24, 2014 after a coup, was caught by the limit laid down in the 2017 constitution.

Article 158 limits the term of office of the prime minister to eight years. However, the starting point of the calculation is not specified, creating a legal vacuum that Prayut Chan-O-Cha seeks to exploit.

Supporters of the 68-year-old former general put forward two favorable interpretations for the 68-year-old leader’s retention.

A first reading assumes the year 2017 as the triggering moment, i.e. the entry into force of the current constitution. Another 2019, a year of contentious elections that legitimized his power.

These methods would allow him to stay until 2025 or 2027 if he retains his post in the elections scheduled for early next year.

His opponents, who started the court case in August, argue that the constitution should be retroactive and therefore believe that the former general reached the limit in August.

– “High chance” that it will be confirmed –

Prayuth’s deputy, Prawit Wongsuwan, took over as acting prime minister, while Prayuth continued to serve as defense minister.

Thai incumbent Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan chairs a cabinet meeting in Bangkok next to the empty chair normally occupied by suspended Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha on August 30, 2022 (ROYAL THAI GOVERNMENT/AFP/Archives – Handout)

Napisa Waitoolkiat, a political scientist at Naresuan University (centre), expects the court to confirm the prime minister.

“There’s a really good chance he’ll survive,” she told AFP.

But the episode of his suspension made him “lose face”, which Thai culture says will hurt him greatly.

Prayut was targeted during the large youth-led pro-democracy rallies that erupted in Bangkok in 2020, demanding his resignation and societal reforms.

“I think there will be protests on the streets and demonstrations in Bangkok against the decision,” believes the political scientist when it’s in Prayut’s favour.

Three groups of young demonstrators have already announced rallies.

Deputy national police spokeswoman Kissana Phathanacharoen said officers were being deployed to ensure security near the court and in central Bangkok.

In November Thailand will host world leaders at the APEC summit in Bangkok and the court’s decision will remove any uncertainty as to who will receive them.

The announcement is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. local time (0800 GMT).


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