Election monitor: Thai polls campaign heavily tilted to benefit junta
BANGKOK: The run-up to Thailand's weekend vote was "heavily tilted" to benefit a party close to the ruling military junta, an Asian election monitor said yesterday. It also criticised a messy ballot-counting process that created mistrust.
Persistent confusion about results two days after Sunday's vote has diminished hopes that the first election since a 2014 military coup would end nearly 15 years of political turmoil in South-east Asia's second-largest economy.
The Bangkok-based Asian Network for Free Elections (Anfrel) stopped short of declaring fraud in the election, where both a pro-junta party and an opposition party linked to a self-exiled former premier have claimed victory.
"The environment at large is heavily tilted to benefit the military junta," Mr Amael Vier, an official of the civil society group that seeks to promote democratic elections, told a news briefing.
"A lot of people still express distrust towards the electoral process."
Asked if the election had been free and fair, another Anfrel official declined to comment directly, however.
"So many things have to be considered together," said mission head, Mr Rohana Nishanta Hettiarachchie.
"It is unfair to conclude that the whole process was free and fair or not."
Thailand's Election Commission was not immediately available for comment.
It has previously declined to comment on accusations of cheating.
The party backing junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha has said it is gathering coalition partners to form a government. A fuller picture could emerge on Friday, when the election commission releases vote totals for each constituency. - REUTERS