Opposition set to file petition with Constitutional Court on the 8-year term limit of Prayut by mid-August

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Opposition parties will file a petition to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s premiership term in two weeks, the opposition leader said.

Six opposition parties led by Cholnan Srikaew, leader of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, said they will file the petition to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai to ask the court to rule on the premier’s term limit either on August 16 or 17, a week before August 24 when they believe Gen Prayut’s tenure should expire.

“The reason why we did not file the petition before this was because we were waiting for the most opportune moment and now, we have a conclusion on when that will be,” he said.

“We believe that a week before he became a prime minister for 8 years would be the best time because if we let it go any longer there would be a risk of damaging the management of the country,” he said.

According to the constitution, a premier can only stay in power for up to 8 years.

Opposition parties and Prayut’s critics argued that his premiership term started since August 2014, just 3-month after the coup that he led against the elected government of Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.  

However, coalition parties and Prayut’s supporters said that his tenure started when the current junta-drafted charter came into effect in April 6, 2017. This means that he would be able to serve until April 2025.

Thailand’s constitution allows a candidate to be the Prime Minister for no more than 8-years (all inclusive) no matter if the person has been a Prime Minister for 1 day or 7 years and 11 months in the past.

Some of his supporters also said that the term should be counted from when Prayut assumed the premiership after the general election on June 9, 2019, which means that he would be able to stay in power until June 2027, if he was reselected. Others have come out to say that his premiership should be counted from the day the 2016 constitution was signed off by HM the King, while some say it should be counted from the day the 2016 constitution was passed in the referendum on August 7, 2016.

The Pheu Thai Party, meanwhile says, that Prayut should step down before August 24 or risk violating the charter.

Apart from opposition parties, a group of 99 academics, activists, and professionals who called themselves as the Thai Intellects and Citizens Group have also launched a campaign to call for Prayut to “abide by the law” and resign.

Metha Maskhao, secretary-general of the Campaign for Popular Democracy who represented the group, told reporters on July 31 when the campaign was launched that if Prayut insisting on distorting the supreme law to stay in power he will regret it for the rest of his life.

“If he wants to continue to stay in power by interpreting the charter to fit his own agenda then this stigma will stick with him throughout his life as the action is severely against the morality of politicians and the government will no longer have any legitimacy to rule,” he said.

“The action will also lead to further political conflict in the country,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister in charge of legal affairs Wissanu Krea-ngam said that General Prawit Wongsuwan, as the first deputy prime minister, would serve as the caretaker prime minister if the Constitutional Court ruled against Prayut before parliament select a new premier.

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