Deputy PM Says Gen Prayut Will Stay Despite Court’s Ruling

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the prime minister and his cabinet would remain in power regardless of the Constitutional Court’s decision on the opposition’s petition on General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s eight-year term.

According to Mr. Wissanu, the Constitutional Court is expected to decide whether to consider the opposition’s letter for deliberation or accept it for trial. Some MPs filed a petition seeking a ruling on when the prime minister’s tenure should end.

However, the deputy prime minister said Tuesday that General Prayut could remain in office since the court may deliberate for several days before deciding whether his tenure should end even if it accepts the opposition’s petition.

In the other scenario, General Prayut would remain in office and continue to perform his duties as prime minister if the court rules against the opponents’ petition.

Moreover, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon would have to take over as interim prime minister if the court ruled that General Prayut should resign, Mr. Wissanu stated.

If that happens, Mr. Prawit will work with other cabinet ministers, including General Prayut, who also serves as defense minister, the deputy prime minister added.

Mr. Wissanu explained that political office holders and permanent government officials could perform their duties as usual. Therefore, there would be no risk or legal violation if General Prayut continues to work as prime minister regardless of the court ruling.

However, the deputy prime minister quoted General Prayut telling his subordinates that he would respect the Constitutional Court’s decision on his mandate.

Mr. Wissanu added that the National Legislative Assembly had approved General Prayut’s first five years in office before Parliament approved three more years, stating: “This has a significant effect. I can only say this.”

The prime minister’s deputy secretary general Anucha Burapachaisri said the prime minister’s term would end on Wednesday if the Constitutional Court determined that it had started on August 24, 2014. This decision is what opposition politicians are seeking.

However,  General Prayut could continue in office until 2027 if the court states that the mandate began on June 9, 2019, after the general election.

The Constitutional Court could also rule that the mandate began on April 6, 2017, when the constitution was promulgated and General Prayut defined his cabinet. If this happens, he could continue performing his duties as prime minister until 2025, Mr. Anucha commented.

General Prayut has not commented on the matter and canceled some events citing a “sore throat.”

Meanwhile, protesters gathered Tuesday to stage rallies near City Hall and other key spots to put pressure on the prime minister over his term limit.