Prayut To Continue Serving As Defense Minister Despite Criticism

General Prayut Chan-o-cha has ignored calls for him to step down as defense minister, insisting he will remain in the post.

On Thursday, a Defense Ministry source said that General Prayut did not show up for work but managed a remote meeting via videoconference.

In the past few days, he has opted to work from home to alleviate mounting pressure on him to step down as defense minister.

After the meeting, Defense Ministry spokesman General Kongcheep Tantrawanich said that General Prayut had asked attendees not to worry about him, as he would continue to perform the post’s duties.

General Kongcheep Tantrawanich insisted that General Prayut may or may not report to the office, depending on the job. A group of aides revealed that he planned to go to the ministry only for important commitments.

General Prayut has been pressured to resign as defense minister after the Constitutional Court decided to suspend him as prime minister on Wednesday.

The suspension order came after the court voted unanimously to accept the opposition’s petition to determine how long his term should last.

At least 171 MPs from the opposition wing signed the petition. The Constitutional Court said General Prayut should be suspended from his duties as prime minister until there’s a final verdict on his term limit.

The court is expected to issue its ruling in a month. Meanwhile, it gave General Prayut 15 days to respond to the suspension.

Thai constitution’s Section 158 indicates that a prime minister can remain in office for up to eight years. The opposition has cited that rule to argue that General Prayut’s mandate should end this month since he took office as prime minister in August 2014.

However, his supporters believe he can continue in the post for longer, arguing that his tenure began in 2019.

Opposition parties and pro-democracy groups have also pressured General Prayut to step down as defense minister this week.

Political activist Jatuporn Prompan announced that protesters would gather on Sunday to demand his resignation.

“General Prayut should make a sacrifice by stepping down as defense minister otherwise a political crisis will occur,” he said.

Mr. Jatuporn also stated that people were unhappy with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon serving as Acting Prime Minister and ruling the country. Therefore, protesters have also called for the House of Representatives’ dissolution.

Another protest leader, Nititorn Lamlua, said that the bond between General Prayut, General Prawit, and the interior ministry Anupong Paojinda remains unbreakable and the trio will continue to rule Thailand.

Meanwhile, Deputy Government Spokesperson Tipanan Sirichana said Thursday that General Prayut has only been suspended pending the court’s ruling.

Ms. Tipanan insisted that he has not been removed from office and remains prime minister until the court rules.