83 Thai election winners being probed

BANGKOK - Eighty-three winners in Thailand's December 23 poll, mostly from a party backing ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, are still being probed for possible poll fraud and could be disqualified, the election commission said yesterday.

BANGKOK - Eighty-three winners in Thailand's December 23 poll, mostly from a party backing ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, are still being probed for possible poll fraud and could be disqualified, the election commission said yesterday.

"We have endorsed 397 MPs who have received no protests," commission chairman Apichart Sukhagganond said.

Among the 83, 65 were candidates from the People Power Party, which openly says it wants Thaksin to advise its coalition, and the rest were from the Democrats and four other parties.

Subject to the commission's fraud rulings, the PPP won 233 of 480 seats in the election, just seven short of an outright majority. It says it has teamed up with three small parties and will be able to form a government when the final results are announced.

Parliament must meet to elect a prime minister within 30 days of the poll, or by January 22, but cannot do so until the election commission has certified every candidate's victory.

The PPP and some analysts believe the generals who booted out Thaksin in a September 2006 military coup are pressing the commission to disqualify so many PPP candidates it will be impossible for the party to form a coalition.

So far, three PPP candidates have been disqualified and a re-run has been ordered in three constituencies.

Earlier yesterday, another commission member, Prapan Naikowit, said all candidates should be given the all-clear by January 21, with by-elections in troubled seats scheduled for January 13 and January 19.

However, the PPP's bid to form a coalition also faced another hurdle as the supreme court has agreed to hear a petition by the Democrat Party to nullify the elections. - Reuters

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