EC won't announce even provisional winners of 150 party seats until May 9
Time gap allows military-led establishment to manipulate results: critics
Thailand's first general election since a 2014 army coup has been touted by the ruling military junta as a return to democratic rule, but two weeks after the vote, results are still unclear and allegations of manipulation are mounting.
Since the March 24 vote, figures linked to a "democratic front" of opposition parties say they have come under increasing pressure from police and the military.
The Election Commission has also indicated it would use a complex allocation formula for 150 "party seats" in the House of Representatives in a way that would likely dilute the opposition alliance's seats in the 500-seat lower house.
The Election Commission has said it won't announce even provisional winners of the 150 party seats until May 9, saying it needs time to order by-elections and vote recounts as well as to disqualify candidates who broke election laws.
But critics say the time gap allows the military-royalist establishment to manipulate results and disqualify opponents of the pro-army Palang Pracharat party that seeks to keep junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha in power as an elected prime minister.
The leading opposition Pheu Thai party, made up of loyalists to army-ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, sees the delays and legal actions as an attempt to deny the "democratic front" enough seats in the House needed to block the main junta-linked party from unrestrained lawmaking power.
The Election Commission's secretary-general, Jaroongwit Phumma, told Reuters the body is not helping the pro-military party.
However, opposition figures say they are being targeted. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the leader of the youth-oriented Future Forward Party which did surprisingly well in the vote, was charged on Saturday with sedition on a junta complaint dating back to 2015 - a case that could see his party disbanded.
Online campaigns have also cast Thanathorn as anti-monarchy, a serious crime in Thailand, where the monarchy is revered without question. Thanathorn denies being against the monarchy and all charges against him. The rules of the election were written in the 2017 junta-backed constitution, which critics said were aimed at ensuring military influence in Thai politics. Palang Pracharat has repeatedly said it reaps no benefits from the constitution.