BANGKOK, THAILAND — Thailand’s outgoing prime minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha announced his retirement from politics Tuesday but will remain as PM until the formation of a new government.
A long-running fixture in Thai politics, the army chief seized power in a 2014 coup before cementing his control in highly controversial 2019 elections.
His decision comes just days before a key vote in the Thai parliament that could see the next prime minister elected, following a May election when voters emphatically rejected army-backed parties.
“From now on, I quit politics by resigning as a member of the UTN party,” he said in a statement posted on the United Thai Nation (UTN) party’s official Facebook page.
The party — which Prayut joined only weeks before the elections — failed to gain traction with voters, coming in a distant fifth place behind opposition parties Move Forward and Pheu Thai.
The opposition groups were galvanised by a wave of support across the country, as voters rejected a near-decade of army-backed rule and voted for reform.
In his statement, Prayut urged members of UTN to protect “the institutions of nation, religion, and monarchy” — a reference to the previously untouchable three pillars of Thai society.
He will remain as caretaker PM until the formation of a new government.