INTERNATIONAL

Pro-Thaksin party stakes claim

P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: The People’s Power Party (PPP) in Thailand, a proxy for deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, on Monday began exploring ways to form a coalition government following the general election held a day earlier.

But, political uncertainty persisted, with the Election Commission yet to announce the official results of the poll that was billed by the coup-masters, who toppled Mr. Thaksin 15 months ago, as a democracy-restoring exercise.

Unofficial tallies put the newly-formed PPP in the lead, with 232 seats in the 480-member new Parliament. The Democrat Party, Thailand’s oldest political outfit, was given 165 seats, while five smaller parties together accounted for the remaining 83. As a result, these smaller parties emerged as key players who could hold the balance of power.

PPP leader Samak Sundaravej claimed “victory” and wanted the coup-leaders to recognise it. However, Thai political observers pointed out that the final tallies of seats for all parties would depend on the outcome of investigations into allegations of electoral malpractices in as many as 150 cases.

Another complicating factor, according to regional diplomats and Thai analysts, was the issue whether the coup-leaders would allow the PPP to form a government without exploring ways to scuttle any such possibility.

The PPP has made no secret of its ties to Mr. Thaksin, still in self-imposed exile since the coup.

A scenario, generally seen as probable, was the likelihood of Democrat leader, Abhisit Vejjejiva being favoured by coup-leader Sonthi Boonyaratglin for the new Prime Minister’s post.

Mr. Abhisit did not reveal his game-plan. But, political speculation on Monday centred on the possibility that the smaller parties might be encouraged by the current military-installed government to gravitate towards the Democrat Party.

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