Thailand’s prime minister,
-ocha, will remain in office after the country’s constitutional court ruled that he hadn’t exceeded his term limit, a victory for the leader ahead of elections next year.
The verdict came in a case filed by opposition parties claiming Mr. Prayuth, a former army chief who led a coup in 2014, had reached the eight-year limit imposed by the country’s constitution. They claimed his term began after the coup in 2014 when Mr. Prayuth was elected as prime minister by an interim legislature that was handpicked by his junta.
The court’s nine-member bench ruled, six to three, that it began in April 2017, after a constitution written by Mr. Prayuth’s government took effect. The decision reinstates Mr. Prayuth, who was suspended from office in late-August as the court weighed the decision.
“I would like to express my great respect to the ruling of the Constitutional Court,” Mr. Prayuth said in a Facebook post following the ruling. He said his suspension was an opportunity to reflect on his priorities as leader during the remainder of his time in office.
Mr. Prayuth has come under increasing pressure from pro-democracy activists who oppose the coup and say his government is illegitimate, as well as critics of his administration’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Recent years have seen mass protests in major cities calling for his ouster, though demonstrations petered out amid the pandemic.
Members of the opposition said they respected the court’s decision, though they don’t agree with its interpretation.
leader of the opposition Move Forward party, said that the decision was “disappointing but unsurprising,” and that the outcome could ultimately help mobilize supporters of the opposition in the lead-up to elections.
“People are angry, they’re fed up with the old system and they want something new,” Mr. Pita said. “They want to restructure the political landscape.”
Political activist groups involved in mass protests that began in 2020 have called for demonstrations in response to the court’s ruling.
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