September 8, 2022
BANGKOK – The source from the Office of the Constitutional Court said that Worawit Kangsasitiam, president of the court, had called a special meeting on Thursday to discuss the written statements of three defence witnesses.
The court had earlier scheduled a meeting on September 14 to issue a ruling on the status of ex-deputy interior minister Nipon Boonyamanee. The court was asked to decide whether Nipon should be suspended from the Cabinet now that he has been charged in the corruption court related to his duty as the head of Songkhla’s Provincial Administrative Organisation eight years ago. Nipon, however, pre-empted a ruling and decided to step down with immediate effect from Monday.
The source said Worawit had informed eight other Constitutional Court judges that he had received written statements from Meechai Ruchuphan, former chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, and from Pakorn Nilprapunt, deputy secretary-general of the Council of State.
The source did not state the name of the third defence witness, who might be Prayut himself as his defence team has also submitted a written statement to the court.
The court suspended Prayut from duty as prime minister after accepting a petition from the opposition for a ruling on whether Prayut might have completed his eight-year term limit. The petition pointed out that Prayut had become the prime minister on August 23, 2014 following the coup and the 2017 charter sets an eight-year limit on the PM’s term.
But Prayut’s defence team has argued that the “prime minister”, to face the eight-year limit, must be one appointed by the House of Representatives elected under the current charter. They pointed out that Prayut had assumed the premiership on June 9, 2019, following the general election in March that year so his eight-year term would be reached in 2027.
The source said if the judges considered on Thursday that they had enough information to make a ruling, the court would schedule a date for announcing a decision. Normally, the court would spend at lest 15 days for considering the information.
But if the court wants more information, the court will defer its ruling until it gets all the information it wants, the source added.
The source added that the court on Thursday might also consider dismissing the petition about Nipon’s status now that he has quit as deputy interior minister.