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Court suspends Thai Prime Minister Prayut from office

#Court #suspends #Thai #Prime #Minister #Prayut #office

Thailand’s Constitutional Court suspended Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha on Wednesday while it considers a legal challenge that could see him sacked months before an expected general election.

The court unanimously agreed to hear a case by opposition parties arguing that Prayut has reached the end of his eight-year term as prime minister.

The judges also agreed, by a five-to-four vote, to suspend Prayut from office until the case is decided, the court said in a statement.

“The court has reviewed the application and supporting evidence and is of the opinion that the facts set out in the application provide reasonable grounds for considering that a case exists as requested,” the statement said.

“Therefore, a majority (five to four) votes to have (Prayut) suspended as Prime Minister effective August 24, 2022 pending the court’s ruling.”

An administrator will be appointed to run the government, with current Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan among the preferred candidates for the role.

– litigation –

It’s not the first time the Constitutional Court has played a role in Thai politics – it annulled the results of the 2006 and 2014 general elections.

The kingdom’s 2017 constitution bans the prime minister from serving more than eight years in total, and opposition parties say Prayut, who came to power in a 2014 coup, has reached the limit.

Several hundred anti-government protesters rallied outside Bangkok’s Democracy Monument on Tuesday ahead of the court ruling, and more demonstrations are planned.

Supporters of the 68-year-old leader argue that the clock on his rule began when the 2017 constitution was introduced, or even after the 2019 general election.

If the court follows that logic, Prayut could technically remain in office until 2025 or 2027 – if he wins a general election due in March.

The former army chief came to power in a military coup that ousted Yingluck Shinawatra’s democratically elected government.

He led the junta regime for five years and remained prime minister after the 2019 national elections.

The stern, outspoken Prayut is increasingly falling out of favor with voters. A recent opinion poll found that two-thirds of those polled wanted him to leave office immediately.

Under Prayut’s oversight, the kingdom posted its worst economic performance in 30 years and its government has also been criticized for its handling of the pandemic.

Youth-led pro-democracy rallies in Bangkok in 2020 drew tens of thousands at their peak, and a key demand of the movement was Prayut’s resignation.

On Wednesday, police had placed shipping containers on some streets near government buildings in anticipation of new protests.

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