BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) – Thailand’s Constitutional Court suspended Prayut Chan-O-cha as prime minister last week, fuelling speculation the royal establishment is looking to replace the former coup leader ahead of elections that must be called by March.
The court is deliberating whether the former general exceeded an eight year term limit added to a constitution drawn up after the 2014 coup – a provision to stop popular elected leaders from holding onto power for too long.
In this case, Mr Prayut is an increasingly unpopular leader and a recent opinion poll shows him trailing behind a possible opposition candidate. And that’s partly to do with his handling of the economy, which is now set for the slowest expansion in South-east Asia this year and has the fastest inflation in 14 years.
However the court rules, Mr Prayut’s time in power is limited and it may spur moves to find his replacement from within political and military circles in Thailand.
He must step down as prime minister if he is found to have gone past the term limit, or he stays on for another four years at the most.
Here’s a look at candidates that the Thai royalist military establishment might support: