Next protest called for Wednesday’s court verdict on PM Prayuth’s fate

Few expect Constitutional Court to rule against former army commander who overthrew government.
Few expect Constitutional Court to rule against former army commander who overthrew government.

Update Dec. 1: Wednesday’s protest start time and location have been changed to 4pm at the Lat Phrao Intersection.

The next large protest will go down Wednesday at a court that holds the power of life and death over politicians when it rules on the prime minister’s fate.

After rallies calling for the king to return his wealth and the army King’s Guard to enact reforms, pro-democracy protesters on this Wednesday will shift attention back to the prime minister, whose ouster is a key demand, when the Constitutional Court rules on whether he is eligible to serve.

The so-called People’s Party announced the rally will begin at 2pm at the Constitutional Court on Chaeng Watthana Road. The court, which has eliminated entire political parties in recent years, will rule on whether Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha abused power by staying in an army residence even after he had retired as army chief in 2014.

The opposition Pheu Thai Party said during February’s censure debate that Prayuth’s residency at the Royal Guard’s First Infantry Battalion on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road constituted a conflict of interest, citing ethics code.

“A minister must not behave in ways that constitute a serious violation of or failure to comply with ethical standards,” reads Section 160 of the Constitution, violation of which warrants termination of the offender’s post. 

Prayuth served as commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army from 2010 until his retirement on Sept. 30, 2014, four months after he seized power in a coup. One of his most recent successors, former army commander Gen. Apirat Kongsompong, defended Prayuth in a letter, saying the coup leader-turned-PM only occupied an “army guesthouse.” Moreover, Apirat continued, Prayuth was working for the nation’s benefit and therefore met army criteria for residing in the residence.

For his part, Prayuth has said he stayed in military housing for “security reasons.”

There’s little expectation that the court will rule against Prayuth as its rulings have consistently upheld the status quo. In 2007, it dissolved former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai Party, the predecessor of Pheu Thai. This year’s resurgent protests were largely spurred by its decision to disband popular progressive Future Forward Party and ban its leaders from politics for 10 years. Some members reformed it as the Move Forward Party.

Relates

Constitutional Court to deliver verdict on Prayuth status Dec. 2

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