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Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday suspended Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha from official duties after it decided to hear a petition to review his legally mandated eight-year term limit.


The court announced its decision in a statement sent to media. It was not clear when it would deliver a final ruling on the petition brought by the main opposition party arguing that Prayuth’s time spent as head of a military junta should count towards his constitutionally stipulated eight-year term.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan is expected to take over as interim leader, a government official said earlier in the week.

Former army chief Prayuth took power in 2014 when he led a coup to overthrow an elected government. He became a civilian prime minister in 2019 after an election held under a military-drafted constitution.

The main opposition party has petitioned the Constitutional Court to review his legally mandated eight-year term limit, arguing that he should leave office this month because his time as junta chief should count towards his term.

The controversy is the latest in a country that has seen intermittent political turmoil for nearly two decades, including two coups and violent protests, broadly because of opposition to the military’s involvement in politics and demands by increasingly politically aware sections of society for greater representation.

A general election is due by May next year.