Thailand has suspended its prime minister. what happens next?

The unusual leadership reshuffle follows a ruling by Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday, which ordered Prayut to stand aside while considering whether he violated a recent eight-year term limit written in the constitution Is.

Prayut served as prime minister before a controversial victory following a military coup in 2014. General election in 2019.

Meanwhile, he ordered the state constitution to be rewritten, banning the prime minister from serving more than eight years in office. But now the question is whether Prayut has crossed his own limit.

Earlier this week the court accepted a petition signed by 172 opposition lawmakers that claimed Prayut’s rule began in 2014, when he took power in a coup. The court will also consider whether his term officially began in 2017, when the Constitution was rewritten, or even 2019 after the election.

Five of the nine Constitutional Court judges agreed on Wednesday that Prayut should be suspended while the court considered the case, but did not provide a timeline for the decision. The court gave Prayut 15 days to give a counter statement as to why he should keep the job once he formally received the court papers.

Prayut’s office said in a statement that he respected the court’s decision.

The statement said the order “will not affect the administration of the nation, the work done by civil servants or the ongoing policies of the government.”

Who’s in charge now?

Government spokesman Anucha Burapchasery told reporters on Wednesday that Deputy Prime Minister Pravit Wongsuwan would serve as prime minister while the court would consider its final decision. Pravit himself is a former army chief and a longtime supporter of the Thai monarchy.

Under the constitution fresh elections are to be held by May of next year, but the current prime minister still has the power to dissolve the elected House of Representatives and hold early elections.

Prayut has survived four no-confidence votes in the past months, and is set to remain in power until the election, said Professor Thitinen Pongsudhirak from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

But critics say the time has come for him to leave.

“There has been some economic mismanagement, politics is still polarised, in the last eight years since he has been prime minister – or since he is called prime minister – Thailand has not done well,” Thitinen said.

While youth-led protests have come to an end of late, he said it was because some leaders of the movement had prosecuted And complaints about Prayut’s government persist.

Why is Prayut unpopular?

Prayut’s regime as prime minister as a military coup leader has been marred by growing authoritarianism and widespread inequality.

The former military chief came to power in 2014 in a bloodless coup that was overthrown yingluck shinawatraThe scam-laden government after six months of civil unrest and violent street protests.
But soon after taking office, Prayut banned all political campaigning, including political gatherings of more than five people. During his leadership, Hundreds of activists have been arrested and charged under harsh laws like sedition lez majeste – which prohibits criticism of the royal family.
In 2020, youth across the country took to the streets and called for Prayut’s resignation to protest threats from the military-backed government. mass protests stems from failed promises to restore democracy, and what activists say is a suppression of civil rights and liberties.
military government’s mismanagement in dealing with coronavirus pandemic And the economy, nepotism and a lack of transparency and accountability also amplified Prayut’s call to step down.
The monarchy of Thailand had long been regarded as a god.  But protesters say it's time for change

Discontent over the military government and the state monarchy continued well into 2021.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who assumed the throne in 2016 and was crowned in May 2019, is believed to spend most of his time abroad and has been largely absent from public life. Thailand As the country is battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Since becoming king, billions of dollars of wealth held by the Thai Crown have been transferred to Vajiralongkorn, asserting his control over royal finances and greatly increasing his personal wealth, which has raised the monarchy’s respect among the public. necessary to do.

CNN’s Helen Regan contributed reporting.