Thailand's interior minister and leader of the ruling party resigned from the cabinet on Friday amid a spiralling graft probe scandal and fears over the political fallout for the government.
Yongyuth Wichaidit said he would quit his ministerial position, although he will retain his role as a member of parliament and as head of the Puea Thai party, allied with ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
"I have decided to resign from both deputy prime minister and interior minister positions," he told reporters in Bangkok, adding that the move would take effect from Monday.
Yongyuth, 70, was found guilty by the Thai National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for unlawfully endorsing the sale of monastic land to a golf course developer when he was deputy permanent secretary at the Interior Ministry in 2000.
He denies wrongdoing and is fighting the case. But the Puea Thai party said he had decided to fall on his sword to take the heat off the government, as bitter divisions continue to cause uncertainty in Thailand's political landscape.
"He wanted the government to be able to continue working for the people without any trouble to distract it," party spokesman Pormpong Nopparit told AFP.
"This is purely legal matter and because the opposition will not let it go, he decided to call it quits."
Political tensions have racked Thailand since Thaksin was ousted by royalist generals in 2006.
Judicial rulings have played a key part in Thailand's volatile recent past, with two pro-Thaksin premiers forced from office in 2008 by the courts. The tycoon's sister Yingluck Shinawatra is the country's current prime minister.