Thailand’s Constitutional Court has suspended the prime minister – the opposition believes he has been in office too long
General Prayut Chan-ocha took power in the country eight years ago in a military coup. He is now suspended until a court decides whether he has exceeded the eight-year term as prime minister set by Thailand’s constitution.
Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri told reporters that 77-year-old Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan will temporarily lead the government.
General Prayut Chan-ocha seized power in a military coup more than eight years ago and was appointed prime minister shortly thereafter. He remained at the head of the coalition government after elections three years ago.
In leading the thirteenth successful military coup in Thailand’s modern history, General Prayut drafted a new constitution. It contains, among other things, a ban on the prime minister holding office for more than eight years.
Opposition parties believe that Prayut has reached the eight-year limit. They have asked the Constitutional Court to rule accordingly.
Although the Constitutional Court has often ruled in favor of the government in the past, this time the judges ruled to suspend General Prayut from office while they examine whether his tenure meets constitutional standards.
General Prayuth’s supporters argue that his term in office should only be counted from the adoption of the constitution five years ago or at all since the last election. The petition, drafted by opposition parties, says that because the army junta led by Prayuth appointed him prime minister in August 2014, months after the coup, his term came to an end this week.
On Wednesday, the court decided to accept and investigate the petition.
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