Opposition steps up debate on PM's term

Opposition steps up debate on PM's term

Aim for a dignified exit, urges Chusak

The opposition has reiterated its call for Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to step down as prime minister before his premiership expires in August.

The opposition says Gen Prayut's premiership ends that month based on its interpretation of the law.

Speaking at the forum called "the Opposition Leader Meets the People" yesterday, Pheu Thai Party leader Cholnan Srikaew said Gen Prayut should consider making an exit as the end of his term was fast approaching.

"Time is running out for the prime minister. He needs to leave office before it is the country that runs out of time," he said.

Dr Cholnan said people would not mind Gen Prayut staying in power beyond eight years if he was capable of solving problems. However, he has proven inept at tackling pressing issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic and growing public and household debt.

It is incumbent on the opposition parties to point out to the public that Gen Prayut cannot remain, both technically and legally, for more than eight years.

The length of Gen Prayut's term as prime minister has been fiercely debated after a legal team from the House of Representatives claimed that he is entitled to serve as premier until 2027.

The team has notified House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, saying Gen Prayut's term technically began when his premiership received royal endorsement under the 2017 constitution on June 9, 2019.

As such, it said, Gen Prayut is entitled to serve until 2027, as a premier can only serve for a total of eight years.

The team rejected the views of those who argue that Gen Prayut's tenure began in 2014, when he took over in a coup as the head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). Under this interpretation, his term would end in August this year.

Six opposition parties, led by Pheu Thai, slammed the House legal team's interpretation. They vowed to seek a Constitutional Court ruling in August on the matter, saying that to them, Gen Prayut's tenure began in November 2014. As such, he must step down on Aug 24.

The charter bars an individual from remaining in office for more than eight years, regardless of whether the four-year terms are served back-to-back or not.

At the forum yesterday, Chusak Sirinil, chief legal adviser to the Pheu Thai Party, said the constitution stipulates Gen Prayut's premiership began with the appointment of his first cabinet under the NCPO and makes no exception for a prime minister to remain in power longer than eight years.

"For the sake of being dignified, Gen Prayut must vacate office before August," Mr Chusak said.

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