BANGKOK: In a court decision that prompted outrage among thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha escaped a legal challenge on Wednesday over his living conditions that would have had him thrown out of office.
The nine-judge constitutional court of the kingdom ruled that Prayut was not guilty of conflict of interests by staying in an army residence after leaving the force, still under scrutiny after months of street demonstrations calling on him to leave.
Thousands of demonstrators, taking to the streets to condemn the decision as unfair, ignored a warning from the court to honour its decision.
The court ruled that even though he stood down as army chief in 2014, Prayut’s position as prime minister allowed him to remain in the military house.
As prime minister and security minister, General Prayut Chan-O-position Cha’s remains unchanged,’ the chief judge added.
The ruling enraged the protest movement that has rattled Thailand since July, calling on Prayut, who came to power in a coup in 2014, to resign, though widely anticipated.
At a big intersection in northern Bangkok, about 5,000 demonstrators massed.
A emblem of the pro-democracy movement, the protest featured uniformed high school students sporting hair clips shaped like rubber ducks.
I’m not shocked that the court got the order from the top, I suppose. The court is not fair,” said Reeda, 26, a graduate student, as demonstrators gathered at the intersection of Lat Phrao.
They still decide choices that conflict with people’s emotions in the past.
The court cautioned against “vulgar” criticism of its work on the eve of the ruling, but this did not stop demonstrators who daubed slogans against the court and on the road against Prayut.