The Constitutional Court on Friday ruled that General Prayut Chan-o-cha can continue as prime minister because he has not served the maximum eight-year term stipulated in the current charter.
The court’s nine judges made the decision by a majority 6:3 vote in favour of Prayut.
The court ruled that the eight-year limit for a prime minister’s tenure set by the Constitution shall be counted from the day the current charter came into force — which is April 6, 2017. Therefore, Prayut has not exceeded the time limit.
The reading of the verdict took about 25 minutes.
Unlike previous charters, the current Constitution clearly stipulates a time limit for the PM’s tenure.
Article 158 states: “The prime minister shall not hold office for more than eight years in total, whether or not consecutively. However, this shall not include the period during which the prime minister carries out duties after vacating the office.”
The parliamentary opposition, via the House speaker, on August 24 petitioned the Constitutional Court, asking if General Prayut had completed his eight-year tenure. The petition cited the fact that he had served in the position since August 24, 2014 following the military coup that he led three months earlier.
Meanwhile, Prayut’s legal adviser Maj-General Wira Rojanawas on Friday called on all parties to accept the Constitutional Court verdict.
“I call on everyone involved to accept and respect the court verdict that General Prayut can still serve as prime minister until the eight-year limit,” he said.
Wira, who is part of Prayut’s legal team and worked on this case, represented the suspended PM and attended the court's verdict reading on Friday afternoon.
Asked if he was concerned about street protests following the court ruling, Wira said he had no worries as authorities could deal with the matter.
Wira said that Prayut now could be addressed as “prime minister” again and that he would resume his duties at Government House from Monday.