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Thais Protest 'Cheating' Election Commission

Activists protest election results in Bangkok, Thailand, March 31, 2019.

A small group of demonstrators protested in the Thai capital Sunday, accusing the election commission of delaying and manipulating results of last week's poll.

In the country's first election since the 2014 coup, the military-backed Phalang Pracharat party won the popular vote and has declared victory. But the Pheu Thai party, linked to ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has also claimed victory, forming a coalition with other opposition parties which would give them a majority of seats in the lower house.

The true outcome of the election may not become clear before May 9, when the election commission has said it will release the official results.

Nearly 100 opposition activists protested near the Victory Monument in Bangkok Sunday, accusing the election commission of "cheating" with chants and banners.

A separate petition calling for members of the commission to be fired had over 800,000 signatures as of Sunday.

The Phalang Pracharat is led by army chief Prayut Chan-ocha, who has led the junta since ousting then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014, while the Pheu Thai is affiliated with Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin, a telecommunications billionaire who was overthrown in a coup in 2006. Parties linked to Thaksin have won every general election 2001.

But Saturday, the king issued an order revoking royal decorations which had been awarded to Thaksin - a move which could damage support for the Pheu Thai party as the monarchy is respected with out question by many Thais.

Last week, Thaksin wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times stating his argument for his belief that the election was rigged. Thaksin noted that preliminary results were delayed for days, and claimed that the numbers disclosed kept changing.

The commission blames the confusing and contradictory results on “human error.”