Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, disclosed on Tuesday, July 11, 2023 that he is quiting politics.
Prayuth served almost nine years in office after seizing power in a 2014 military coup.
His announcement came after the political party for which he served as a Prime Minister candidate this year placed fifth in May’s general election, winning just 36 seats in the 500-member House of Representatives.
Prayuth, 69, a former army commander, made announced his decision on the Facebook page of Ruam Thai Sang Chart, or the United Thai Nation Party. He had been their nominee to return as Prime minister.
“I would like to announce my retirement from politics by resigning as a member of United Thai Nation,” Prayuth noted.
“I’d like to ask the party leader, executives and members to continue their political activities with a strong ideology of protecting the institutions, the nation, the religion and the monarchy, and take care of the Thai people.”Prayuth Chan-ocha
Prayuth did not provide a specific reason for leaving politics but cited what he considered his accomplishments in office.
“In these past nine years, I as Prime Minister have worked with my full determination and strength to protect the nation, the religion and the monarchy, and for the best interest of the beloved people.”Prayuth Chan-ocha
The result is currently bearing fruit for the public,” Prayuth said.
“I have tried to strengthen the country in all areas for stability and peace and overcame many obstacles domestically and internationally,” he added.
Meanwhile, Prayuth will remain as caretaker Premier until a new government is formed.
Parliament To Select New Prime Minister This Week
Thailand’s Parliament is slated to select a new Prime Minister on Thursday, July 13, 2023.
The nominee from the top-running, progressive Move Forward Party who has formed a majority coalition of eight parties with 312 seats in the Lower House, must win a majority vote of at least 376 of the combined vote of the House and the non-elected Senate, which has 250 members.
Due to political differences with the conservative Senate, it is uncertain that the party’s leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, can get approved.
Prayuth first served as Prime Minister in the unelected military government that came to power in the 2014 coup. He led the 2014 power grab from the elected civilian government of Yingluck Shinawatra, describing it as an act of “duty” to stabilise a country defined by violent rival street protests, coups and short-lived civilian governments.
Prayuth was returned to the job after the 2019 election as a candidate of the army-backed Palang Pracharath Party. Prime ministers do not need to be Members of Parliament, and Prayuth did not contest the polls in 2019 or this year.
In the nine years since his coup, Prayuth has survived multiple challenges via court cases, house confidence votes and street protests by opponents who saw him as an opportunist who lacked a public mandate.
Critics claim that he represents an out-of-touch royalist establishment which will not let democracy take root. Thailand has witnessed 13 coups since becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1932.
Prayuth would only have been able to serve two more years under constitutional term limits if he had been returned to office this year. He was already one of Thailand’s longest-serving Prime Ministers.