Prawit Backs Prayut To Serve As PM for Two More Years

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has endorsed General Prayut Chan-o-cha, hoping the prime minister would survive the legal dispute over his eight-year term limit to rule for two more years.

Mr. Prawit also expects that the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) will also nominate General Prayut as prime minister for the second time.

Gen Prawit, who leads the PPRP, declared that he was prepared to renominate Gen Prayut as the party’s candidate for prime minister. However, he wouldn’t flatly decline if other party members decided to nominate him as well.

The Thai constitution’s Section 158 limits the prime minister’s term to eight years. However, opinions differ on when Gen Prayut’s tenure started, as three potential dates have been the subject of debate.

Some think that Gen Prayut’s term began in 2014 when he became prime minister after the coup, while others believe that the count should end in 2017, arguing that he had been appointed to the post under the 2017 charter in June 2019.

Another group says the count should end in 2025, as Gen Prayut’s mandate began in April 2017 when the current status was enacted.

As a result, the Election Commission (EC) and activist Srisuwan Janya requested that the Constitutional Court determine when Gen Prayut’s eight-year term is officially over.

On Tuesday, reporters at Government House asked General Prayut about General Prawit’s statements, but he refused to answer.

Labor Minister Suchart Chomklin said that General Prawit had always supported General Prayut to hold the prime minister post but clarified that the Constitutional Court has the last word on when his mandate should end.

Meanwhile, observers say General Prawit’s comments show the government is confident the prime minister will survive the legal dispute.

If an election is held next year and the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) wins the most seats in the House, General Prayut is expected to join the government and return for another term in office.

However, even though the new government would have a four-year term, he would only be able to stay in office for two years, as his mandate was due to end in 2025, observers explained. In this scenario, the parliament should elect a new prime minister.

Observers also believe that General Prawit could be nominated as a prime ministerial candidate after General Prayut’s term ends in 2025.

However, sources say General Prayut has given the go-ahead and supports Deputy Prime Minister and Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul as his successor.