Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who came to power in a military coup in 2014 and served for almost nine years, announced on July 11 that he is retiring from politics. This decision comes after the political party he represented as a Prime Minister candidate in this year’s general election secured only 36 seats, finishing fifth in the May polls.
Prayuth, a former army commander, made the announcement on the Facebook page of the United Thai Nation Party, also known as Ruam Thai Sang Chart, which had nominated him for the role of Prime Minister.
The selection of a new Prime Minister is scheduled to take place in Parliament on Thursday. The nominee from the leading progressive Move Forward Party, which has formed a majority coalition with eight parties holding 312 seats in the House of Representatives, needs to secure a majority vote of at least 376 from the combined votes of the House and the non-elected Senate, which consists of 250 members. However, due to differences with the conservative Senate, it remains uncertain whether the party’s leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, will be approved.
Prayuth previously held the position of Prime Minister in the unelected military government following the 2014 coup. After the 2019 election, he was returned to office as a candidate of the army-backed “Palang Pracharath Party.” Notably, Prime Ministers in Thailand do not need to be Members of Parliament, and Prayuth did not participate in the 2019 or this year’s elections.
If Prayuth had continued in office this year, he would have been limited by constitutional term limits to serving only two more years. He is already one of Thailand’s longest-serving Prime Ministers. Although he did not provide a specific reason for leaving politics, Prayuth highlighted his accomplishments during his time in office and expressed his commitment to protecting the nation, religion, monarchy, and the best interests of the people.