2nd of 3 statements to court may support PM Prayut until 2025

FILE PHOTO: A second document submitted to the court may favor Prayut remaining as PM until 2025.

The ongoing saga continues of whether suspended Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will be able to extend his tenure more than the eight years he has already served, with speculation rife about a court document suggesting his constitutional eight years ends in 2025. The Constitutional Court is currently considering a pitch by Prayut himself as well as documents from two legal experts whose contents have not been made public.

Statements from two legal experts regarding the prime minister matter were submitted, including the one currently being discussed by Meechai Ruchupan, who worked at the Charter Drafting Committee, serving as its chair. A statement released on social media seems to say Meechai supports the position that Prayut’s two-term limit didn’t officially start until April 6, 2017, which is when the constitution currently governing Thailand was ratified.

Meechai did not confirm the media reports about the contents of the statement or other documents released regarding the prime minister’s situation. If that opinion is included in his statement to the court, it would support Prayut remaining as Prime Minister until 2025.

The Constitutional Court is expected to take up the issue tomorrow, considering the statements of Prayut and Meechai, as well as Pakorn Nilprapunt, who was previously secretary-general of the Charter Drafting Committee and now serves as the secretary-general of the Council of State which is in charge of giving the government legal advice.

Although the Constitutional Court is set to discuss the fate of Prayut since being suspended as PM on August 24, it might not be wise to hold your breath for a ruling this week. They stated that a decision would only be announced if the court came to a unanimous agreement. If any of the judges have doubts or require more information, they may request further evidence and put off a ruling until a future meeting of the court. An advisor to the prime minister said yesterday that he did not expect any quick ruling.

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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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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