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Thai PM Claims Election Victory, But Opposition Rejects Results


Unofficial results from Thailand's snap election Sunday show Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's party won with 57 percent of the vote. Mr. Thaksin's opponents say the election was invalid, but they will participate in a new election if the prime minister resigns. But the election has not ended the Thai political crisis.

The political deadlock in Thailand continued Tuesday as Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra claimed victory, while the opposition reiterated its demand that he resign or face continued protests.

Mr. Thaksin appeared on Thai television Monday night and proposed that an independent commission be named to find solutions to the confrontation. He says if the commission recommended he resign, he would do so immediately, adding that he is open to any option that will end the political crisis.

However, the prime minister also indicated that any solution must also satisfy the 16 million Thais, or 57 percent of the voters, who cast ballots for him on Sunday. He asks how he can tell 16 million supporters that his resignation will be for the good of the country.

The three main opposition parties, which boycotted the elections, Tuesday announced a common response to the prime minister's remarks.

Ongart Klampaiboon, the spokesman for the Democrat Party, said the parties agreed that if Mr. Thakin resigned, they would re-join the political process.

"We accept the offer of the prime minister - that we will join elections after political reform and the prime minister resigns," he said.

Civic leaders who have organized mass demonstrations over the past several months said they would end their rallies as soon as Mr. Thaksin announced his resignation. However, they said protests would resume Friday if he does not step down.

Voters in Northern Thailand overwhelmingly endorsed Mr. Thaksin's party. But a majority of voters in Bangkok and Southern Thailand cast abstention votes to protest his government, which critics accuse of corruption and abuse of power.

Because of the boycott, the prime minister's party ran unopposed in two-thirds of the districts. Even so, however, its candidates in 38 districts did not receive the minimum 20 percent of the eligible vote needed to win.

As a result, these districts will require by-elections, which could delay the opening of parliament and the formation of a new government.

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