A court in Thailand ruled five to four on Wednesday to immediately suspend Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
The ruling, a response to a case filed by opposition parties, revolves around a term limit controversy, according to the BBC. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan will assume the role of interim prime minister as the court reviews the case.
Prime ministers in Thailand are constitutionally limited to eight years in office but Prayuth, a former army officer, seized power in a 2014 coup and maintained hold of his office after a “heavily restricted” 2019 election, according to the BBC. Prayuth’s supporters argue that the beginning of his term was either in 2017, after the inauguration of a new constitution, or after his 2019 election victory. Many in the opposition believe his term began after his seizure of power in 2014.
Nearly a hundred pro-democracy protesters at central Bangkok’s Democracy Monument welcomed a Thailand court’s decision to suspend Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha from duty, but called for more action https://t.co/DJca4aHjQr pic.twitter.com/FRgw0DlQQP
— Reuters (@Reuters) August 24, 2022
A court gave Prayuth 15 days to respond to his suspension, according to Reuters. Prayuth could be reinstated if the court rules that his term began in 2017 or 2019. Even if the court rules that Prayuth began his term in 2014, his ruling party, Palang Pracharat, will likely be able to successfully elect the next prime minister. (RELATED: REPORT: Woman Sentenced To 43 Years In Prison For Insulting Thailand’s Monarchy)
Prayuth, known for his fraught relationship with the media, guided Thailand through massive COVID-19 lockdowns and unprecedented levels of public discontent with the monarchy.