The woman set to become Thailand's first female prime minister on Wednesday played down a decision by the Election Commission to postpone certification of her poll victory over allegations she violated electoral law.
The commission announced late Tuesday that 44-year-old Yingluck Shinawatra was one of a quarter of winning candidates from the country's July 3 parliamentary ballot whose endorsements were still pending investigations into complaints against them.
Any move to disqualify Yingluck, who heads the opposition Pheu Thai party, could trigger mass protests by her supporters and spark a new round of turmoil in the fractious Southeast Asian nation.
"I believe that the Election Commission will grant justice to me and the Pheu Thai party," Yingluck told reporters Wednesday.
She described the postponement as part of a "normal process" for the commission and said it still had a month to investigate and make a final decision.
The Election Commission, which has the right to disqualify winners, did not specify reasons for it rulings Tuesday and could still certify the candidates' victories in the days ahead if they are absolved of the complaints against them. The commission is expected to certify a second batch of candidates next week.
Among the 142 candidates in the 500-member lower house of parliament that the commission failed to endorse was Yingluck's main rival, the army-backed incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Yingluck is the youngest sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose overthrow in a 2006 military coup triggered years of unrest that many see as pitting long-marginalized rural Thais against an elite alliance comprising the army, the military and powerful businessmen and politicians.
Thaksin is barred from politics and lives in exile in Dubai to escape a two-year prison term on a graft conviction that he says is politically motivated. His overthrow was followed by controversial court rulings that removed two pro-Thaksin premiers who came after him _ one of whom won a 2007 vote intended to restore democracy in the nation of 66 million people.
The Election Commission's decision could mark the start of another "judicial coup" against the pro-Thaksin camp, said Pavin Chachavalpongpun of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore,
"This is a postelection attempt to prevent the Pheu Thai party from coming to power," Pavin told The Associated Press by telephone.
At the very least, he said, "it will stir up resentment among their supporters. And it could end up prolonging the Thai crisis."
Yingluck's Pheu Thai party won 265 of the parliament seats up for grabs in this month's vote, a victory that gave the opposition the crucial majority it needed to form a government.
The lower house has 30 days to convene and another 30 days from its first session to officially select a prime minister.
Associated Press writers Todd Pitman and Grant Peck contributed to this report.