Thailand’s top court has suspended prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha from official duty while it considers a legal challenge to his term limit.
The country’s opposition parties brought forward a case that Prayuth has overstayed his term in office.
Thailand’s constitution limits prime ministers to eight years in office.
Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power in a military coup in 2014, and retained office in 2019 under a military government-guided election.
A final ruling is still due, but the court ordered Prayuth’s suspension while it considers the case.
It comes as he has over the past few years been facing growing opposition, though he survived a no-confidence vote against him last month.
Protesters had earlier gathered outside parliament buildings in the capital, Bangkok, demanding his resignation.
Opponents and activists pushing for Prayuth’s removal had argued his term began when as junta leader, he seized power in the May 2014 coup and was appointed the prime minister of the new military government in August 2014. Thus his term, should end this week, they argued.
However, his supporters say his term only began in 2017 – when a new constitution came into force- or even after a general election in 2019 that saw him elected into power.
Under these terms, he could technically continue serving until 2027 – if he wins an upcoming general election.