Court may pump brakes on PM’s tenure ruling

Prayut Chan-o-cha

After a key document leaked to the public, Thailand’s Constitutional Court may be pumping the brakes on the prime minister’s tenure ruling. The special meeting today had some hoping that the speed of the ruling would change, but the secretary-general of the Office of the Constitutional Court, Chaowana Traimas, dispelled those rumours.

Instead, he says the press briefing was called to straighten out false information regarding the timeframe of the court’s ruling in the case. He says today, the court will review the submitted evidence to see if it is sufficient to make a ruling. If not, the court will request additional documents.

Chaowana reassured the press that the court maintains utmost neutrality and independence and upholds justice.

“At this juncture, it is premature to assume the judges have arrived at a decision since it has not yet been determined if the evidence they have to work with is sufficient.”

The leaked document was allegedly from the former chairman of the 2017 charter drafting committee. Chaowana says the court is launching an investigation into the leak. He declined, however, to comment on the document’s authenticity, which has gone viral on social media.

In the document, Meechai allegedly states that Prayut Chan-o-cha’s premiership started in April 2017, which was when the constitution was promulgated. Such a date would mean that the PM’s tenure would end in April 2025. The significance of the document implies that the date of the constitution being promulgated would not be applied retroactively to actions that took place before its promulgation unless specific provisions are noted in the constitution.

Another leaked document to social media has made its rounds concerning the PM. In it, it allegedly details the PM’s argument that it is incorrect to assume his first term, which began in August 2014, was bound by the current constitution. The document supposedly also reveals that the PM’s argument states that his first term was governed by an interim charter. That charter, in which he allegedly speaks, was put in place by the coup’s maker.

The debate over his ability to remain as PM hinges on when the court decides on what is considered the official start date for Prayut. The Constitution adopted in 2017 lays out the term limit clearly in Section 158, but does not specify if it is retroactive – as in, does Prayut’s time in office count before its adoption?

The two people most likely to take over as prime minister are current acting Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who is known for his outspoken statements during the Covid-19 pandemic as the Minister of Public Health. Prawit had previously gone on record saying that he hopes Prayut will remain the PM for two more years.

Anutin said that the current government will carry on its normal term until March 22 of next year, and were not be affected by the suspension of Prayut.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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