Thai court sets date to rule on PM's tenure

A court in Thailand has set a date to deliver its verdict on whether Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha can stay in power.

Thailand's Constitutional Court says the verdict will be handed down on September 30, as the judges have enough evidence to make a ruling.

Prayut has been suspended from his duties since last month after the Constitutional Court accepted a petition by opposition parties saying his term had already ended.

The Constitution limits a prime minister to up to eight years in office. The opposition says Prayut assumed his position after a coup in 2014.

But his supporters say his term began in 2017, when the current Constitution came into effect, or in 2019, when he won a general election.

The court's ruling could have lasting effects on Thai politics. If the court decides Prayut's term has already expired, parliament will choose the next leader while Prayut stays on in the interim. But the process is expected to take some time.

In the meantime, concerns are rising about political instability ahead of major events such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in November, and a general election due by early next year.