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Thailand Orders Election Revotes

January 23, 2001

BANGKOK, Thailand, (AP) _ The Election Commission on Tuesday ordered revotes in 62 districts where candidates were suspected of cheating, a decision that throws into doubt a telecommunication tycoon’s claim to have won the Jan. 6 election.

Preliminary results showed Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai Party had won 256 seats in the 500-member House of Representatives, the lower chamber of parliament. It was the first time any party had won a majority in Thai elections.

But in announcing official results, Election Commissioner Yuwarat Kamolwej said 338 candidates were declared winners. He said re-elections will be held Monday in 62 constituencies, mostly in northern Thailand where Thai Rak Thai won its biggest chunks of seats.

The remaining 100 seats are filled by nominees of parties based on their percentage of the national vote, which can’t be determined until the revotes.

The commission said names of the winners will be disclosed later.

``We will fight to win a simple majority,″ said Thai Rak Thai spokesman Suranan Vejjajiva.

In recent weeks, the commission interrogated 113 winning candidates, including 55 from Thai Rak Thai and 18 from the runner-up party, the ruling Democrats of Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai. The rest are from smaller parties vying to join the next government coalition.

The Jan. 6 general election was the first held under tough new rules to combat vote-buying that has been rampant in previous polls in Thailand’s developing democracy.

The commission is struggling to validate 500 lawmakers by Feb. 5, by which time the constitution says Parliament must be ready to convene.

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