Prayut: Let court rule on tenure dispute

Prayut: Let court rule on tenure dispute

Prayut: 'Will respect' court decision
Prayut: 'Will respect' court decision

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has urged critics to withhold judgement until the Constitutional Court rules on the dispute regarding an eight-year limit on his premiership.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana on Wednesday said: "What is right is to let this matter be examined [by the court] in accordance with the 2017 constitution regarding the qualifications of the prime minister.

"Please listen to what the court has to say. Don't rush to interpret the charter on your own and without sufficient understanding," he said.

He was responding to critics who have cited the minutes of a Sept 7, 2018 meeting of a charter drafting committee to support their view that Gen Prayut's maximum eight-year tenure ends later this month.

"Gen Prayut will respect the court's opinions because he has never thought of himself as being above the law. And he begs all sides to stick to the rule of law as well," said the spokesman.

Section 158 of the constitution limits the term of a prime minister to eight years, but disagreement abounds as to when Gen Prayut's term officially began.

Some believe it should be this month because the count started in 2014 when he first assumed the role of prime minister after the coup that year.

Another group claims his term should end in 2027 because he was appointed prime minister under the 2017 charter in June 2019. As a result, his eight-year limit would end in 2027.

Last Friday, activist Srisuwan Janya asked the Office of the Ombudsman and the Election Commission (EC) to seek a Constitutional Court ruling on when Gen Prayut's eight-year tenure concludes.

According to an excerpt of the Sept 2018 meeting, Meechai Ruchupan, chairman of the 2017 charter drafting committee, said the eight-year tenure of a PM in office before the charter should span both the time before it came into effect, and the period after if the same prime minister served again after the new constitution was put in place.

Suphot Khaimuk, a former Constitutional Court judge and the former first deputy chairman of the charter drafting committee, seconded Mr Meechai's opinion, according to the excerpt being circulated on social media.

This has led some critics to conclude that Gen Prayut's eight-year term will end this month.

Mr Suphot, however, insisted on Wednesday the tenure should be counted from the day of royal endorsement.

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