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Political pressures are piling on General Prayut Chan-o-cha as opposition parties plan to file a petition to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on his premiership term limit in two days and a pressure group had called for a protest against him this weekend.
“According to the charter, a prime minister cannot stay in power for more than 8 years, no matter if the terms were consecutive or nonconsecutive,” Leader of Pheu Thai Party Cholnan Srikaew told reporters at parliament on Monday.
“The issue that the term limit can be nonconsecutive was important because it meant that the term can be counted backward and there was no written exception to this rule,” he said.
Cholnan said opposition parties will file a petition to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on Prayut’s premiership term on August 17, a week before August 24 when they believe his tenure should expire.
Opposition parties and Prayut’s critics argued that his premiership term started on August 24, 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 on April 6, 2017. This means that he would be able to serve until April 2025.
Some of his supporters also said that it should be counted from July 10, 2019, when he came into power after the previous election.
When asked whether the government was concerned over the petition or not, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of legal affairs Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Monday that senior members of the government are not discussing this issue.
“No one is talking about it,” he said.
When asked about Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan’s comment last week that Prayut still has at least 2 years to go, Wissanu said that was just an opinion and the court’s decision will based on how they interpreted the law, not opinions or rulings of previous legislations.
The People’s Assembly (Khana Rorm Ruam Prachachon), a political pressure group which consists of Jatuporn Prompan’s Thai Mai Thon group and Nititorn Lumlua’s Prachachon Khon Thai group, said that they will stage a protest against Prayut and his government this coming Sunday (August 21).
Yoswaris Chuklom, a former co-leader of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship who is now with the People’s Assembly, said the group is planning to gather around 10,000 protesters for the protest.
However, previous gatherings of the group have amounted to no more than 1,000 protesters each time.
Yoswaris said more people will be motivated to join them this time around because of economic hardship and Prayut’s intention to stay in power longer than what the charter allows him to.