Release of Thai Election Results Delayed Indefinitely
The release of Thailand's election results has been indefinitely delayed due to a host of technical errors, mishaps and complaints over the counting process, the official Election Commission (EC) said Sunday.
Vote count estimates released by media groups said Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai party may win a simple majority in the 500-seat House of Representatives.
Thaksin shied away from declaring himself the winner Sunday, saying he would wait until the official count is released, but the EC's revelation suggests it could be days before he can deliver his victory speech.
"We can't announce any official count and can't say when the official count result will be released because there were many complaints, and objections in many constituencies," said commissioner Yuwarut Gamolvej.
Apart from graft allegations, there were difficulties in abiding by strict new rules laid out in the 1997 anti-corruption constitution that applied to a lower house ballot for the first time this weekend.
Ballots from the rainy southern regions had arrived wet, others were late, and some officials forgot to apply the official sticker on the ballot sheet, he said.
Serious irregularities such as rampant vote-buying had forced counting to be stopped in six constituencies with dates set for re-elections later this month.
Exit polls after ballot boxes closed in Saturday's election indicated Thai Rak Thai had won as many as 230 seats against about 118 for the ruling Democrats.
But rough tallies of vote counts monitored by the Nation press group and iTV network said Thai Rak Thai may be able to form a government in its own right, holding between 245 and 256 seats against about 124 for the Democrats.
Regardless of the delays in the release of the official result, Thai Rak Thai was believed to be working on signing up coalition partners to ensure it had a comfortable majority in parliament.
Thaksin's deputy Sudarat Keyuraphan said the party "expects up to 300 seats for a coalition government."
Asked whether the opposition New Aspiration Party and the Chart Thai party -- formerly a member of Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai's six-party coalition -- would be picked she replied: "Something like that."
Coalition partners would be selected for their willingness to pledge allegiance to Thai Rak Thai policy, she said.
"We have to focus on policies first because our country is facing severe economic problems. We have to find a party who can get along well with our policies."
Thai Rak Thai secretary general Purachai Piemsomboon said the party had held talks with the leaders of New Aspiration and Chart Thai before the election to discuss a possible alliance.
However, no formal announcement would be made until after the official poll results were released, he said.
"It depends very much on the seats which each party has gained and whether we manage to win 250 seats. Our leader Thaksin has stated clearly that he prefers a 320-seat coalition." -- BANGKOK (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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