Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister of Thailand, is back in office after a five-week-long
suspension. Oppositional political parties and Thai activists express dissent concerning this
ruling, but are not surprised in the least.
The suspension – in effect since 24 August – was implemented after oppositional political parties
petitioned the Constitutional Court of Thailand to rule on the 8-year term limit, a charter that was
drafted in 2017 by the military.
The Pheu Thai Party (PTP), Thailand’s main opposition party, argued that Prayut’s term began with
the 2014 coup takeover and should have ended this August as per the 8-year limit.
However, the Constitutional Court, among other supporters, argues that his premiership began
when he was royally endorsed as premier under the new constitution which came into force in
2017, meaning he should be allowed to remain in office until 2025, Thai Enquirer reported.
Last Friday (30 September), the majority of the bench judges of the court voted in favor of
Prayut’s premiership, therefore, ending his suspension.
“The Constitutional Court, by majority vote (6 to 3), ruled that the respondent held the office of
Prime Minister pursuant to section 264,” the Constitutional Court of Thailand states in a press
“The judges, as honorable as they are, were handpicked by Prayut, so the court’s verdict doesn’t
come as a surprise,” says Paul Singh to The GO, a representative of the Move Forward Party, a
Thai political party.
“Since there’s an election next year, oppositional political parties say ‘let him be, let’s not give him
another reason to do a coup,’” Paul adds.
The next general election is expected to take place in May 2023, according to the Election
Commission of Thailand.
The 68-year-old retired general seized power in a military coup in 2014, the same year he was
appointed as the Prime Minister by late King Rama IX. He was junta leader and prime minister
until 2019, after which a new parliament chose him to remain as premier following an election held
under a military-drafted constitution.
Prayut is now concurrently the Prime Minister of Thailand and the Minister of Defence.
According to Thai politician Paul, although a lot of Thais are aware of the country’s political
corruption, there is not much they can do since “we don’t live in a democratic society and there’s
no freedom of speech.” He states that Prayut can just “change the law” whenever he wishes.
Following the court’s verdict, hundreds of pro-democracy, anti-government activists gathered to
protest the court ruling where they expressed dissent through song, dance, speeches, and signs
reading ‘Prayut, get out.’
The demonstration demanded freedom of speech, a more democratic constitution, and Prayut’s
“To call our country a democracy would be a mockery to those who died striving for freedom,”
Bunkueanun “Francis” Paothong says in an interview with The GO.
Francis is the Co-Chair of the Coalition of Salaya Students, a Thai protest group. At a 2020
protest, Francis was charged with Section 110 of the Criminal Code: “Violence against the
Like Paul, the court’s decision did not shock Francis: “With the Constitutional Court’s composition
stacked in Prayut’s favor, the verdict was anything but predictable,” he says.