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Thai Politics in Limbo with Delayed Election Results And Accusations Of Cheating

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BANGKOK – Election Commission secretary-general Jarungwit Phumma held a press conference Monday to announce the decision to delay the poll results.

Late on Monday afternoon, the Election Commission (EC) said with 95% of the vote counted, its latest unofficial figures gave Pheu Thai 137 constituency seats and Palang Pracharat 79, followed by Bhumjaithai with 39, the Democrats with 33 and Future Forward with 30. 150 seats were yet to be decided.

Earlier, Secretary-general Ittiporn Boonprakong said the EC would announce the unofficial results of 350 constituency seats later on Monday, but unofficial full vote counts — which are needed to determine the allocation of 150 other seats in parliament — would not be available until Friday.

He reiterated that official results from at least 95% of House seats would not be finalized until May 9.

Thailand’s major parties are vying to control its government, after mixed tallies in early election results. Here, Sudarat Keyuraphan, the Pheu Thai party’s prime minister candidate, is seen after a news conference in Bangkok Monday.

The Pheu Thai party, which was ousted from government in the coup, said it won the most constituency seats in Sunday’s election and will try to form a government with similar-minded parties.

But the unofficial results released thus far show the military-backed Palang Pracharat party won the popular vote.

On Sunday night, the EC delayed without explanation a full announcement of preliminary results as a blizzard of complaints mounted over apparent mistakes in the count and possible irregularities at the polls.

Nearly 1.9 million votes had been invalidated with 93% of votes tallied, the EC said late Sunday. Earlier counts showed that in a handful of provinces more than half the ballots cast were invalidated.

Sunday’s election — seen as a referendum on the military — was held under new rules written by the junta to ease its transformation into a civilian government.

Meanwhile, Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra called Sunday’s election “rigged” and warned the junta would seek to retain power no matter which coalition emerges.

Reeling off a litany of election irregularities, Thaksin said the military regime “clearly is afraid” and its proxy party Palang Pracharath (PPRP) would lead a “very unstable government” if it doesn’t have a majority in the lower house of parliament. Earlier, allies in Thaksin’s Pheu Thai Party claimed victory and said it would seek to form a government.

“Whether or not the junta’s leaders now allow the pro-democracy parties to form a government, they will find a way to stay in charge,” Thaksin wrote in an op-ed published in the New York Times. “They have no shame, and they want to be in power no matter what.”

The comments indicate a showdown is emerging to form a government between Pheu Thai and PPRP.

Pheu Thai led with 137 of 350 constituency seats in an initial tally, followed by PPRP with 97 seats, according to the Election Commission. The count, which didn’t include another 150 party-list seats, showed that both major parties would need to form a coalition to take power in the 500-member lower house of parliament.

“We’ll try to form a government coalition right away because that’s how people voted,” Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, Pheu Thai’s candidate for prime minister, told reporters on Monday, adding that the army-appointed Senate should follow the wishes of voters. “We stood by our position that we won’t support the continuation of the military regime.”

PPRP has also said it would seek to form a government. It won 7.93 million votes with 94% counted with Pheu Thai second at 7.42 million votes, according to unofficial results posted on the EC.

The EC announced the winners of 350 constituencies at 4 pm, after several delays in giving seat totals. It said that initial vote counts were accurate even though its computers were attacked. Official results won’t be known until May 9.

Source: The Bangkok Post