Court to mull Prayut's status as premier

Court to mull Prayut's status as premier

Constitutional Court judges yesterday accepted a petition to evaluate the qualifications of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The court said there is no need to suspend Gen Prayut, as the petition and supporting documents do not show enough evidence of any damage caused by the accused. The petition did not ask the court to suspend him either.

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai forwarded the petition, which was initiated by 110 MPs from seven opposition parties, to the Constitutional Court for review.

The MPs wanted the court to rule on whether Gen Prayut's status as the premier should be terminated because the chief of the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) was a state official before resuming his post as prime minister and was thus not eligible to hold the post.

Charter court judges also voted 5:4 to accept a petition filed by lawyer Natthaporn Toprayoon, accusing Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, his party and executives of trying to end the constitutional monarchy.

Mr Natthaporn told the court that the way the party regulations are written says it supports "constitutional democracy", which could mean it actually supports systems other than a "constitutional monarchy".

Meanwhile, political activist Srisuwan Janya yesterday petitioned the Office of the Attorney General to seek a Constitutional Court injunction to prevent Mr Thanathorn from committing "treason".

Mr Srisuwan, secretary-general of the Association to Protect the Thai Constitution, was referring to Mr Thanathorn's giving interviews to the international media that are critical of Thailand.

He accused Mr Thanathorn, along with party spokeswoman Pannika Wanich, of giving many interviews while in the United States, which could be deemed as violating sections 119 and 127 of the Criminal Code.

Section 119 refers to acts that undermine the state's sovereignty and Section 127 covers acts considered threats to national security, he said. Mr Thanathorn could also be deemed to be in violation of Section 49 of the constitution that prohibits acts that undermine democracy, Mr Srisuwan added.

He accused Mr Thanathorn of repeatedly telling the media in the US that he wanted the US to step in to help restore democracy because Thailand remains under the yoke of the NCPO. After the court issues the requested injunction prohibiting Mr Thanathorn from defaming Thailand, he could then face criminal charges if he refuses to stop, Mr Srisuwan said.

"I don't want [him] to set a bad precedent for other politicians," he said. "As an MP who is paid with taxpayers' money, he has to think about the country's reputation ... He can't just keep defaming the country because he didn't get what he wants."

Mr Thanathorn denied betraying the country and being a threat to national security, saying he was only updating the international community on Thai politics.

The court also agreed to issue a ruling on Aug 27 on the qualifications of ministers including Suvit Maesincee, the current Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Minister and former Minister of Science and Technology.


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