Rival Thai leaders are both claiming themselves to be Thailand’s next prime minister after Sunday’s general election failed to produce a clear, independently-verified winner. Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was exiled from power in 2006, says the election results were “manipulated” by the military to ensure it holds onto power. The pro-army Palang Pracha Rath Party (PPRP) performed better than expected to win the majority of votes, although the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party held more seats. PPRP plan to keep coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha in power – he was army chief when he ousted the Pheu Thai government in 2014.
The country’s electoral commission has been heavily criticised after refusing to release official results over the poll irregularities.
Electoral commission official Nat Laosisawakul said “human error” was behind the vote irregularities but the full vote counts would be released on Friday.
Pheu Thai Party is now threatening legal action as a result of the political stalemate.
Sudarat Keyuraphan, a candidate for prime minister of the party, told reporters: “There are irregularities in this election that we’re not comfortable with. These affect the nation’s credibility and people’s trust.
“We’ve voiced our concerns before for vote-buying, abuse of power, and cheating. All three have manifested. We will fight back through legal means.”
Thaksin accused his opponents of massaging the result in an opinion piece for the New York Times.
He wrote: “I knew that the junta running Thailand wanted to stay in power, but I cannot believe how far it has gone to manipulate the general election on Sunday.”
What are the results so far?
Unofficial results show Phew Thai leading with 137 seats to PPRP’s 96 seats in first-past-the-post polling in the 500-strong House of Representatives.
Other parties have secured between 30 and 39 seats each.
However, the results of the remaining 150 seats are yet to be revealed and will not be released until May 9.
Those seats will be allocated based on a calculation of voter turnout.
However, they will not be ready by Friday when the electoral commission makes its announcement.
The results showed a turnout of 70 percent, far less than had been anticipated in the build-up to polling day.
Many Thai people have complained of vote rigging on social media.
A change.org petition has been launched to impeach the election commission.
Almost 600,000 signatures had been gathered by Monday evening.