Monday, July 4, 2011

Pictures: Thaksin allies seek coalition after Thai poll win

Yingluck Shinawatra, opposition Puea Thai party candidate and sister of fugitive Thai ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, celebrates her victory at the party headquarters in Bangkok. -- PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK - ALLIES of Thailand's fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra will scramble to form a coalition government on Monday after a huge poll victory that reshaped the kingdom's fractured political landscape.

The result is a remarkable comeback for the ex-leader's supporters after his ouster in a military coup sparked years of turmoil, and his youngest sister Yingluck Shinawatra is set to become Thailand's first female premier.

With almost all the votes counted, her Puea Thai party had won a clear majority with 263 seats out of 500, well ahead of incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's Democrats on 161, according to the Election Commission.

It estimated turnout at 74 per cent. More than 170,000 police were deployed to secure the vote, but it appeared to proceed peacefully. The election - and what happens next - is seen as a major test of Thailand's ability to emerge from its long political crisis, which saw mass protests by Thaksin's 'Red Shirt' supporters paralyse Bangkok last year.

The demonstrations culminated in the country's worst political violence in decades, when more than 90 people, mostly civilians, died in a military crackdown and major buildings were set ablaze.

The populist Thaksin is loathed by the ruling elite who see him as corrupt, authoritarian and a threat to the revered monarchy, and fears have been raised that an opposition victory could unleash more protests or even another coup. -- AFP
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Opposition leader Yingluck Shinawatra of Pheu Thai Party casts her vote at Wat Khonglumjeak School in Thailand's general election on Sunday, July 3, 2011 in Bangkok, Thailand. Five tumultuous years after a military coup shattered Thailand's stability, this fractious Southeast Asian nation held pivotal elections Sunday that voters hope will end the country's long-running political crisis. But many also fear the ballot could trigger a new era of upheaval if the results are not accepted by rival protesters or the coup-prone army. -- PHOTO: AP

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