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Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha will not seek reelection and is to retire from politics, his party announced Tuesday, a decision that comes two months after a parliamentary election that saw voters overwhelmingly reject the country’s military-backed rule, CNN reported.

The announcement came just two days before Thailand’s parliament is set to vote for a new prime minister after May’s elections.

Those elections saw opposition parties secure a majority in the lower house of parliament, including the progressive Move Forward party which gained the most seats, 152 out of 500, and the largest share of the popular vote.

Prayuth’s United Thai Nation party only won 36 seats.

Although he will remain caretaker prime minister until a new government is formed, Prayuth’s departure ends nearly a decade of rule by the army chief-turned-prime minister.

He came to power following a 2014 coup and declared himself prime minister. In 2019, his party’s coalition gained a majority in the legislature and he was elected leader with the backing of the upper house.

But his rule has received criticism over growing authoritarianism and widening inequality. In 2020, mass demonstrations swept the country with protesters calling for Prayuth’s resignation. The protest sparked as a result of failed promises to restore democracy, as well as repression of civil rights and freedoms.

Analysts described his decision to retire as the “defeat of the military regime” and a “boost to pro-democracy supporters.”

His retirement also reduces the possibility of a conservative challenger to Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat when lawmakers convene Thursday to elect a new prime minister, Nikkei Asia added.

Even so, observers told Nikkei that a Move Forward government could still face challenges: The constitution and electoral rules were promulgated in 2017 by the military government, and allows the 250 military-appointed senators to join in electing the prime minister.

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