Top court may start discussing Gen Prayut's case next week

Top court may start discussing Gen Prayut's case next week

Wissanu: 'No fixed time frame'
Wissanu: 'No fixed time frame'

The Constitutional Court may start deliberating suspended prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's case concerning the start of his eight-year tenure next week, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

Mr Wissanu said yesterday that, generally, there is no fixed time frame for the court's deliberations, though that policy may not be applied to this case.

He said next Wednesday is the deadline for parties involved in the case to submit statements to the court, and the court may start deliberating that day or the following day.

It is not known whether it will finish in one day, he said.

Asked whether Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who serves as acting PM, has the authority to reshuffle the cabinet, Mr Wissanu said in theory he can.

However, in reality there are several factors that need to be taken into account, he added.

The Constitutional Court decided on Aug 24 to suspend Gen Prayut as prime minister until it hands down its ruling on his term limit. The suspension order followed the court's decision to accept an opposition petition asking it to rule on Gen Prayut's eight-year tenure.

Pornpit Phetcharoen, secretary-general of the House of Representatives, said yesterday the secretariat of the House has already submitted the minutes of the Constitution Drafting Committee's (CDC) 501st meeting to the court.

The court ordered the secretariat to forward the minutes of the meeting that occurred on Sept 11, 2018. The office of the court said the CDC's 501st meeting was held to approve the minutes of the 500th meeting on Sept 7, 2018.

The minutes of the 501st meeting relate to the court's consideration of the petition for it to rule on whether the prime minister's time in office was already up.

According to media reports, former CDC head Meechai Ruchupan said during the 500th meeting that Gen Prayut's tenure started, before the promulgation of the present constitution on April 6, 2017.

Gen Prayut was installed as PM on Aug 24, 2014, under a provisional constitution enforced after he led the coup on May 22, 2014.

If his tenure began then, it should have ended on Aug 24 this year. The constitution limits the tenure of a PM to eight years.

But if the tenure was interpreted as beginning when the present constitution was promulgated in 2017, Gen Prayut could stay in power until 2025, provided he agrees to run for re-election as premier by parliament after the election expected in the middle of next year.

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