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Thai Prime Minister Wins Crucial Legal Battle To Stay In Office

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Thai

Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, under pressure from months of street protests on Wednesday, 2 December, survived a legal challenge over his living arrangements that could have seen him thrown out of office.

According to Aljazeera, the kingdom’s nine-member constitutional court ruled that Prayut was not guilty of conflict of interest by living in an army residence after leaving the military.

“The status of General Prayut Chan-O-Cha as prime minister and defence minister remains unchanged, the head judge said.

The court ruled that Prayut’s status as prime minister entitled him to live in the house even though he stepped down as army chief in 2014.

The ruling, though widely expected, is likely to inflame the protest movement that has shaken Thailand since July calling for Prayut who came to power in a coup to quit.

As the judgment was read out pro-democracy protesters massed for a fresh rally at a major intersection in northern Bangkok.

The judge said the military had changed the status of the residence from an army house to a guest house in 2012, so technically the defendant is no longer living inside an army house.

The main opposition party Pheu Thai brought the legal challenge which if it had succeeded would have forced Prayut and his cabinet out of office.

The premier has previously argued his family must stay at the army house on a military base for security reasons.

Some critics say the constitutional court is unduly interventionist.

The pro-democracy movement is facing legal action of its own with five key leaders charged on Monday under Thailand’s strict royal defamation laws, as well as calling for Prayut to go.

Protesters also want reforms to the army-drafted constitution and for changes to the monarchy, a taboo-smashing demand in a country that has long revered its royal family.

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