Court declines to hear case of PM’s incomplete oath

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Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Bangkok (AP) — Thailand’s Constitutional Court announced Wednesday it has declined to hear a case accusing the prime minister of violating the constitution by omitting a sentence from the oath of office he and his government took before HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

The issue raised questions about the legitimacy of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s government, which took office in July.

Prayuth failed to include the phrase “I will also uphold and comply with the constitution of the kingdom in every aspect.” It was unclear if the omission was accidental or intentional.

A statement from the court Wednesday said it lacked jurisdiction because the oath was a matter between the executive branch and HM the King.

It also mentioned that the monarch had issued a royal message, delivered late last month but dated the day of the oath-taking, encouraging the Cabinet members to perform their duties according to the oath they swore.

The court’s decision appeared to preclude further legal challenges of Prayuth’s omission. The lower house of Parliament is supposed to debate the matter on Sept. 18 at the request of the opposition, but the court’s position gives Prayuth’s government ammunition to stave off any political attacks.

The case went to the Constitutional Court after the state ombudsman forwarded complaints from two citizens who charged that Prayuth’s failure to pledge allegiance to the constitution was a breach of the charter.

Opposition lawmakers pointed out the omission, and Prayuth responded that the matter was not a problem. The ombudsman’s office said he told them he had completed the oath-taking, without elaborating.

The oath is written into the constitution that was adopted in 2017 when Prayuth headed the previous military government.