Candidates lodge complaints | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 30, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, March 30, 2019


Candidates lodge complaints

Several anti-military candidates in Thailand lodged fresh complaints with the Election Commission yesterday over bungled tallies and alleged vote-buying following a controversial ballot that has left politics in the junta-ruled kingdom in limbo.

A military-backed party and its main rival led by an exiled billionaire have both claimed the right to lead the government in the wake of Sunday's polls, with official final tallies delayed for weeks.

Candidates from at least two parties issued complaints with the commission yesterday over alleged irregularities they claim could skew final vote counts.

A member of the anti-junta Future Forward party accused the pro-military Phalang Pracharat of currying favour among local officials by gifting them cash and gifts.

Other complaints includes voters intimidation, irregularities in vote counting.

On Thursday the commission unexpectedly released the latest popular vote tallies, before quickly taking them down and re-posting revised numbers. The tally showed more than 2.1 million invalidated votes, but election officials did not respond to questions about the ballots.

The regional election monitor ANFREL said the haphazard release of the results "reflects poorly" on the commission.

"Many voters may never see this election as a legitimate expression of the people's will," said ANFREL's programme officer Amael Vier.

The junta-backed Phalang Pracharat party, whose prime ministerial candidate is 2014 coup leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha, clinched the majority of popular votes in Sunday's polls. In second place was its main rival Pheu Thai, the party linked to self-exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. With parliamentary seats yet to be confirmed, both parties have claimed the right to govern.

Pheu Thai and Future Forward formed a coalition with five other parties this week. But observers say the seven-party bloc will not likely have enough overall seats in the upper and lower houses to stunt a junta-backed alliance with the balance of power stacked in the military's favour.

The 250 seats in the upper house are all military-appointed, which means anti-junta parties need an avalanche of votes to secure enough seats overall to elect a prime minister.

The only thing that could tip the balance for the anti-junta coalition is if they are joined by the veteran Democrat Party, which so far has 33 seats, but which has not pledged allegiance to any camp.

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