Thai PM breached constitution by failing to vow to uphold it: ombudsman

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BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s prime minister and his cabinet breached the constitution by failing to recite the full oath of allegiance when they were sworn in before the king last month, the Office of the Ombudsman said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and 35 cabinet ministers pledged their loyalty to King Maha Vajiralongkorn at a ceremony at a Bangkok palace on July 16 but omitted the last sentence, on upholding and complying with the constitution.

“The prime minister did not recite all the wordings as required by the constitution,” Raksagecha Chaechai, secretary-general of the Office of the Ombudsman told reporters.

“Therefore, the swearing-in was incomplete,” he said.

Raksagecha said the Constitutional Court would have to rule on what needed to be done because an incomplete oath could mean that all of the government’s actions could be seen as unconstitutional.

Prayuth declined to comment when reporters asked him about the office’s ruling.

Prayuth scrapped the previous constitution when he seized power from an elected government in a 2014 coup. He was army chief at the time.

The current constitution was drawn up at his behest. It gives the military a significant role in politics, to the disappointment of pro-democracy activists.

Despite their reservations about the constitution, activists say the failure of Prayuth and his cabinet to recite the line about upholding it could raise concern about prospects for constitutional rule.

On Aug. 8, Prayuth said he was taking full responsibility for the omission and apologised, while assuring the country that the government would function as normal. He did not specify how he would rectify the situation.

Television footage of the July 16 ceremony shows Prayuth reading from a sheet of paper as he and his cabinet swore their loyalty to the king and vowed to perform their duties for the benefit of the county and the people, but leaving out the last bit about the constitution.

Prayuth became prime minister with the backing of pro-military members of a new parliament, elected in a contested March general election.

Earlier on Tuesday, Prayuth and his cabinet received a written message from the king encouraging the government to perform its duty well and do what was right, a government spokeswoman said.

Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Robert Birsel



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