11 July 2024

Thailand’s Election Commission will hold a meeting to consider a petition, submitted by political activist Srisuwan Janya, asking the election watchdog to seek a Constitutional Court ruling on whether Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s term in the office will reach its 8-year limit on August 24th, said EC Chairman Itthiporn Boonprakong today (Saturday).

The same petition was also submitted by Srisuwan to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Itthiporn said that, if the meeting agrees that there are legal grounds, in accordance with Section 170 of the Constitution, the EC will bring the case to the attention of the Constitutional Court.

Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the Office of the Ombudsman, Pol Lt-Col Keerop Kritthiranont, said that, after receiving Srisuwan’s petition, the first step is to consider whether the office has the authority to consider the petition.

If it has, he said that the next step is for them to consider whether there is a legal channel through which the ombudsman can take the case to the Constitution Court.

He said that the issue at stake is important and is of widespread public interest. Therefore, the office has to act cautiously.

Move Forward Party MP Thiratchai Panthumat said that opposition parties will also submit a petition through House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, asking the Constitutional Court to rule on the prime minister’s term in office, in the middle of this month.

In the petition, he said opposition parties will ask the court to stop the prime minister from performing his duties if the court rules that his term will end by August 24th.

There are three different opinions on when the eight-year period actually began.

Opposition parties and anti-government critics contend that Prayut’s premiership started when he assumed office on August 24th, 2014, after the military coup which he led to topple the caretaker government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

His supporters, however, maintain that his tenure began when the current Constitution came into effect on April 6th, 2017.

The third option is that the period started when he assumed the premiership on June 9th, 2019, following the general election in March that year.