Thai demonstrators protest against alleged polls cheating

Opposition activists accuse election commission of delaying and manipulating the results in first polls since 2014.

    'Get out! Stop cheating! Respect the people!' chanted the protesters close Bangkok's Victory Monument [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]
    'Get out! Stop cheating! Respect the people!' chanted the protesters close Bangkok's Victory Monument [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]

    As the wait for the official result in Thailand's elections continues, scores of opposition supporters in the capital have protested against alleged cheating by the election commission in the country's first polls since a coup five years ago.

    A week after the March 24 vote, the outcome remains uncertain. It might not be known until after the commission publishes official results, due on May 9.

    The body released partial results on the night of the polls, and took four more days to publish fuller counts, showing a party supporting the military government winning the popular vote but the opposition Pheu Thai party ahead in partial results of House of Representatives seats.

    Both the Palang Pracharat party - which seeks to keep military government leader Prayuth Chan-ocha in office - and an opposition "democratic front" of seven parties, led by Pheu Thai, have claimed a mandate to form the next government.

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    "Get out! Stop cheating! Respect the people!" the protesters in Bangkok chanted on Sunday. A Reuters news agency report put the number of those protesting close to the city's Victory Monument at more than 100.

    The demonstrators urged bystanders to add to the 830,000 signatures on an online petition to impeach the commission.

    The commission has declined to comment on criticism of its handling of the results.

    The post-election standoff could raise tensions just as Thailand prepares for the elaborate coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in May.

    On Saturday, the king issued an order revoking royal decorations that had been awarded to Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister who was removed in an earlier 2006 army coup and is linked to the Pheu Thai party.

    The move could hurt the standing of Thaksin and the affiliated party in the eyes of many Thais because the monarchy is revered without question in Thai culture.

    Thaksin-linked parties have won every election since 2001. The 2014 coup overthrew a Pheu Thai-led government that had Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, as prime minister.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies