Thailand’s constitutional court on Wednesday (Aug 24) ordered Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to halt his official duties pending the result of a legal review of his eight-year term limit, local media reported.

The reports by local news outlets including ThaiPBS, Bangkok Post, Khaosod and Workpoint did not cite sources.

Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan will serve as caretaker PM in the interim, Khaosod reported.

The constitutional court is expected to make an official announcement shortly.

The challenge that the embattled premier is facing came after Thai opposition lawmakers filed a petition to the court last week asking it to rule on when Mr Prayut’s term as the country’s leader should end.

The petition signed by more than 170 members of the House of Representatives seeks the court’s interpretation of Section 158 of the 2017 Constitution, which states: “The Prime Minister shall not hold office for more than eight years in total, whether or not consecutively.”

The interpretation by the nine-judge court will determine if Mr Prayut has breached the maximum term in his role as premier, and if he is eligible for re-election to the post in the next general election expected early next year.

The latest development came as protesters rallied across Bangkok for the fourth day, with a handful staying overnight near the Government House as security forces barricaded roads with fences and shipping containers.

Demonstrators are demanding that Mr Prayut step down as they say that the eight-year period started on Aug 24, 2014, when he first assumed office after staging a military coup in May that year.

Wednesday marks eight years from the day the former army chief became prime minister.

The Straits Times