Controversy over Prayut's term limit as PM

Controversy over Prayut's term limit as PM

Opposition's tenure claim 'incorrect'

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha inspects the situation in Muang district of Chaiyaphum as the entire province is flooded. (Government House photo)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha inspects the situation in Muang district of Chaiyaphum as the entire province is flooded. (Government House photo)

The opposition has come under criticism for allegedly trying to misinterpret a clause in the constitution to put a premature end to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's term in office.

Thippanan Sirichana, a former deputy spokeswoman for the Palang Pracharath Party who is now attached to the Prime Minister's Secretariat Office, yesterday accused the opposition of bringing up the subject for debate to smear the prime minister's image.

She said the opposition was afraid that Gen Prayut would be nominated as prime minister and lead the country for a second term.

Ms Thippanan went on to slam opposition MPs' "misinterpretation" of Section 158 of the constitution, saying they incorrectly alleged that Gen Prayut only has less than a year to serve in office.

Section 158 of the charter bars any individual from assuming premiership in excess of eight years, regardless of whether or not the four-year terms are served back-to-back.

The opposition says Gen Prayut's time as prime minister will be up in August next year, as his premiership technically began on the day he was installed as the head of the National Council for Peace and Order after the 2014 coup.

However, Ms Thippanan insisted Gen Prayut's premiership began when the current charter was promulgated in 2017, as the constitution acknowledged the tenure of ministers who carried over their duty from the NCPO regime officially begins on the day the charter came into effect.

Responding to claims by Theeratchai Panthumat, a Move Forward Party MP, who said Gen Prayut's term went back to NCPO days, Ms Thippanan said nowhere in the charter does it say that Gen Prayut's time in office after the coup should be counted together with his premiership after the 2017 constitution came into effect.

Separately, the opposition will lodge a petition with the National Anti-Corruption Commission against Gen Prayut, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on today.

The petition is based on allegations levelled against Gen Prayut and the two ministers in the censure debate early this month.

Prasert Chantararuangthong, secretary-general of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, said the allegations include the government's mishandling of the national vaccine procurement policy, alleged graft in the procurement of antigen test kits and the abuse of rubber stockpile quota which caused the price of rubber to collapse.

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