Pro-Thaksin party fears coup by stealth

Click Here For The Peninsula Home Page

Web posted at: 1/5/2008 7:34:47
Source ::: REUTERS

BANGKOK • Fears of a post-election dirty tricks campaign by Thailand’s old guard appear to be coming true.

Having come within a whisker of an outright majority in December’s poll, the party backing ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is facing an unusually high number of fraud complaints against its winning candidates, analysts said yesterday.

The Supreme Court has also agreed to hear three cases that could lead to the pro-Thaksin People Power Party (PPP) being disbanded, or some or all of the poll results being annulled.

Of 83 candidates being investigated by the Election Commission (EC), whose five members were appointed by the army after the September 2006 coup, 65 are from the PPP.

Although there is no indication how many will end up disqualified, or “red-carded” as soccer-mad Thais like to call it, the high proportion of accepted complaints against the PPP and the EC’s distinct lack of openness has raised eyebrows.

“The idea of 65 suspicious cases against PPP seems odd,” said Kevin Hewison, a Thai politics researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “To change the course of the election you need between 20 and 30 red cards and that seems highly likely at this stage. They may well overturn the result.”

With so much at stake in the election, analysts thought the army and royalist establishment accused of inspiring the coup would pull out all the stops to ensure a pro-Thaksin administration did not emerge. However, when the PPP beat most projections to win 233 of the 480 seats in parliament, it appeared at first that the generals had yielded and accepted the result, even though they know they are in trouble if Thaksin or his proxies get in to power.

Perhaps fearful of riling the EC, a PPP spokesman said he was not unduly concerned by the probes and hoped the party’s candidates would be able to clear themselves.

However, party chief Samak Sundaravej has accused a “dirty invisible hand” of meddling in the post-election process, widely interpreted as a reference to chief royal adviser Prem Tinsulanonda, who Thaksin supporters say organised the coup.

In the first sign of public anger, 30,000 people in Buriram, a Thaksin stronghold in the northeast, rallied in front of the provincial EC offices to complain about the disqualification of three PPP candidates last week.

Election commissioner Prapan Naikowit denied any bias, saying the higher number of complaints against the PPP was merely a reflection of it having the most winning candidates.

“We are not discriminating. The EC’s investigations are fairly based on fact and evidence,” he told reporters in Bangkok.

The machinations alleged by Samak, if true, are indicative of a Bangkok elite unable to accept the voice of an electorate predominantly rural and poorly educated, analysts said.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  เปลี่ยนแปลง )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  เปลี่ยนแปลง )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  เปลี่ยนแปลง )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  เปลี่ยนแปลง )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: