Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Friday ruled that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan Ocha can remain in his job, paving the way for him to return to office after a five-week suspension.
What Happened: The court said Prayuth did not violate a constitutional provision limiting him to eight years in Thailand’s top office.
"The accused ... has been in the prime minister position not exceeding the limit stipulated by the constitution," a judge said in a 25-minute televised reading of the verdict, Reuters reported. "Therefore he is not disqualified," added the judge.
This came after Thailand’s opposition lawmakers filed a petition for the court to decide on their contention that Prayuth, who took power as the head of a military council after overthrowing the elected government in 2014, had violated the eight-year limit that had been incorporated for the first time in Thailand’s 2017 Constitution for prime ministers.
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According to the 2014 date, Prayuth would have completed the eight-year term last month, but since the clause was added in 2017, he and his supporters argued that the countdown for the term should begin from then. This immunity from the court will now allow him to serve until 2025 if he returns to office after the next general election.
Prayuth's spokesperson said he respected the ruling and thanked his supporters.
"The prime minister respects the court decision and wants to thank all that have given him encouragement," said government spokesperson Anucha Buraphashaisri.