Suspended Thai PM Prayuth Chan-ocha to continue in role as defence minister

Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha attends a weekly cabinet meeting ahead of a Constitutional Court decision on when his eight-year PM terms ends at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand.

Suspended Thai leader Prayuth Chan-ocha said on social media he will continue in his role as defence minister, in his first direct address to the public since a court ordered him to cease his duties as prime minister while it reviews his term limit.

“I will continue to do my duty and responsibility as defence minister for the people and Thailand every day,” Prayuth said on the Twitter account of the prime minister’s office on Thursday.

The Constitutional Court on Wednesday decided to hear a petition brought by the main opposition party arguing that Prayuth’s years spent as the chief of a military junta after he took power in a 2014 coup, should count toward his overall time in office. The constitution stipulates a term limit of eight years for the prime minister.

It remains unclear when the court will deliver a decision on the review.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan is serving as acting premier of Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy. He declined to answer journalists’ questions on his first day in the prime minister’s office on Friday.

The controversy over Prayuth’s term limit is the latest eposide in nearly two decades of intermittent political turmoil, including two coups and violent protests, stemming from opposition to military involvement in politics and demands for greater representation as political awareness grows.

A government spokesperson, Anucha Burapachaisri, said on Friday the cabinet continues to function as normal.

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