Thailand’s Constitutional Court, the country’s highest judicial body, temporarily suspended Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha from his duties on Aug. 24. After launching a military coup in 2014, Prayuth presided over the kingdom of 70 million people. But the constitution he helped engineer after the coup limits prime ministers to eight years in power — a limit he may have hit last month — prompting the court to step in.
What happens now? For the former general, the court ruling is one of the most serious challenges to his grip on power yet, and his ambitions for an additional term as prime minister could implode as a result. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan assumed the role of acting prime minister and their relationship is not without friction.
Even if he survives the court ruling, the increasingly unpopular Prayuth also faces a number of other challenges ahead of elections slated for no later than spring 2023. These include a sagging economy, a third year of student protests and potential opposition from the strongly royalist and ascendant Wongthewan military faction.