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Thailand’s Outgoing Prime Minister and Former Junta Leader Announces Retirement From Politics

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Thailand’s caretaker prime minister Prayut Chan-Ocha said he will retire from politics after a bid to extend his near-decade rule failed with the defeat of the pro-establishment parties in the May general election.

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Prayut will resign from the United Thai Nation Party, which the former army chief only joined in January in a bid to stay in office for another term following earlier years as junta leader and then a civilian premier.

His announcement, made in a Facebook post on Tuesday, came nearly two months after the election that tipped the scale of power in favor of a group of pro-democracy parties led by Pita Limjaroenrat, the current front-runner to take his job.

Read More: Who Will Be Thailand’s Next Prime Minister? Here Are All the Ways It Could Go

Prayut first seized power in a military coup in 2014 and stayed in power as the head of a civilian government following an election in 2019.

“As prime minister, I dedicated myself to protect the nation, the religion, and the monarchy, and worked for the benefit of the beloved people,” Prayut said, referring to what’s known as the three pillars of the Southeast Asian country. “From now, I’m retiring from politics.”

Prayut said he enjoyed his short stint campaigning United Thai Nation Party, which won 36 seats in the 500-member House of Representatives. The party has said it will not nominate Prayut or party leader Pirapan Salirathavibhaga to challenge Pita’s bid.

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