Allies of deposed PM claim victory in Thai election
Allies of Thailand's deposed prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, have won the first parliamentary election since a 2006 military coup, according to initial election results released Sunday.
But the People's Power Party (PPP)appears to have fallen just short of winning a majority in the 480-seat house, according to the partial results from Saturday's election.
The PPP, which backs Thaksin, "has in fact declared victory already," freelance journalist Andrew Drummond told CBC News from Thailand on Sunday.
The Election Commission said in a preliminary report thatthe PPPtook about 230 seats, while its top rival, theDemocrat Party, tookfewer than 170.
Samak Sundaravej, the head of the PPP, said Thaksin had called from Hong Kong and offered his congratulations. Samak told reporters that the PPP would welcome other parties in a coalition government.
The PPP campaigned on policies Thaksin had advocated, and said it would grant amnesty to him and executives of the outlawed Thai Rak Thai Party.
"They didn't do anything wrong," Samak said.
The army cited corruption and interference with independent government bodies when it launched the coup that deposed Thaksin in September 2006.
Thaksin was visiting New York at the time and has since moved to Britain.
Military leaders said at the time of the coup that they wished to return to democracy. In the summer,a new constitution was approvedin a referendum, and the parliamentary election followed.
The election — was the first since Thaksin was deposed — is "a victory for democracy," Drummond said. "The country will have a strong government that's supported by the people."
Ruangroj Jomsueb, a spokesman for the country's Election Commission, said the commission is investigating many reports of alleged vote-buying in rural areas.
About 5,000 candidates from 39 parties ran in the election.
With files from the Associated Press