Thai Minister Quits Ahead of Court Decision on Plea to Oust PM

(Bloomberg) -- A member of Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s cabinet resigned on Tuesday, days before the nation’s charter court was due to consider a petition by a group of senators for the leader’s removal.

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Pichit Chuenban quit as a minister in the prime minister’s office, saying his departure would allow Srettha to carry on. The senators wanted the minister to be axed, saying he lacked the qualifications to take up such a post under the constitution.

Pichit, a former lawyer for the powerful Shinawatra family, was sentenced to six months in jail in 2008 for contempt of court after he attempted to bribe Supreme Court officials while representing former premier Thaksin Shinawatra during a corruption trial. Thaksin fled Thailand shortly after the scandal.

The senators sought Srettha’s removal on the grounds that he had failed to comply with ethical standards under the constitution by appointing Pichit to his cabinet.

It was not immediately clear if the court would proceed with a decision on the petition when it meets on Thursday or dismiss it.

“I will not cling to the position in a way that would prioritize my personal benefits over the public good,” said Pichit in his resignation letter.

Srettha, who is in Europe on an official trip, said Monday that he believed there was no ethical issue over Pichit’s appointment but that he respected any move to scrutinize him.

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