Ombudsman set to rule on PM's oath slip

Ombudsman set to rule on PM's oath slip

Legitimacy debate to be settled on Aug 27

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

The Office of the Ombudsman is expected to rule later this month on a petition involving an incomplete oath recital by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Chief Ombudsman Wittawat Ratchatanan said a review of the petition will take about two weeks and that the Ombudsman's office will rule on the legitimacy of the oath on Aug 27.

He said the case is not complicated and will be considered on legal facts. The Ombudsman will gather facts and information from the concerned authorities and Gen Prayut.

The petition was submitted by political activist Srisuwan Janya who asked the Ombudsman to forward the matter to the Constitutional Court or the Administrative Court.

In his complaint, Mr Srisuwan alleged that Gen Prayut may have violated Section 161 of the constitution because he failed to recite the final sentence, which requires the oath-taker to vow to uphold and abide by the constitution.

Mr Wittawat also gave his assurance that the Ombudsman is independent and that his consideration will be straightforward and transparent.

Meanwhile, the opposition said it will file a motion today for a parliamentary debate to grill Gen Prayut over the incomplete oath after the premier failed to answer their questions in the House twice.

Pheu Thai secretary-general Anudit Nakhonthap said Gen Prayut owes it to the House, otherwise, the seven-party opposition will table the motion under Section 152 of the constitution which will legally require him to explain his actions.

The passage of the motion requires support from 50 MPs.

Mr Anudit said the prime minister may choose not to clarify the issue while it is being reviewed. However, if he decides to dodge questions, this will reflect on his lack of understanding about the parliamentary system.

The prime minister must be answerable to people through his role as prime minister and his duty to the House of Representatives. He has to address issues which draw public interest, has impacts on the public and the nation, or is urgent, he said.

He said the controversy concerns the legitimacy of the government and that the opposition is not using it to attack or discredit the government as alleged by the prime minister. He insisted the opposition is merely doing its job of keeping tabs on the government and the prime minister.

"The opposition does not seek to exploit the oath issue as a tool to attack the prime minister or the government as the prime minister has alleged."

"We are duty-bound to probe. Otherwise, we could be charged with dereliction of duty," he added.

According to Mr Anudit, if the motion to grill the prime minister under Section 152 of the constitution is passed, the opposition will also take the chance to discuss other issues, not just the oath controversy.

Lt Gen Pongsakorn Rodchomphu, deputy leader of the Future Forward Party, said the opposition will ask Gen Prayut to clarify the oath controversy for a third time today.

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