Thai election board endorses win of likely next PM

AP News
Posted: Jul 19, 2011 8:49 AM
Thai election board endorses win of likely next PM

Thailand's Election Commission on Tuesday certified the victory of Yingluck Shinawatra, clearing a major hurdle to her becoming the country's first female prime minister.

Yingluck, the sister of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva were among 142 candidates in the 500-member lower house of parliament whom the commission failed to endorse last week pending investigation of complaints that they violated electoral law.

Abhisit also was among the 12 winners endorsed Tuesday in the ruling announced by Commission Secretary-General Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn.

Yingluck's Pheu Thai party won 265 seats in the July 3 general election. Parliament must convene and elect her as prime minister before she can take office.

Parliament is supposed to open within 30 days of the election, but the house cannot legally convene unless 95 percent of its members are certified by the electoral body.

Thailand has been wracked by political turmoil since Thaksin was ousted by a 2006 military coup after being accused of corruption and disrespect for the monarchy.

The complaints against Yingluck and her Pheu Thai party concerned the possible involvement of Thaksin and other banned politicians in her election campaign. More than 100 executives of Thaksin's party in 2007 were barred from politics for five years on charges of violating the election law.

"We have considered the complaints against her and decided to dismiss them," Suthiphon said, adding that the five commissioners voted unanimously to clear Yingluck.

Suthiphon also announced that Abhisit was cleared of the three complaints against him and that the commission would consider more endorsements Thursday.

There are also complaints against the Pheu Thai Party for including Thaksin in the party's election campaigns by using the slogan "Thaksin Thinks, Pheu Thai Does" in its posters.

Pheu Thai trumpeted its connections with Thaksin, the country's most popular politician, but the law is not clear on what is allowable, and party leaders claim Thaksin had no say in their activities.

Thaksin 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, even though a pro-Thaksin party won the first post-coup election in 2007.