(Reuters) - Thailand’s first general election since a military coup five years ago was thrown into disarray on Monday as two opposition parties alleged cheating and the election commission said it could be weeks until the make-up of parliament becomes clear.
Confusion over the outcome of Sunday’s election raised the specter of a protracted struggle to form a government، spoiling hopes of a clear cut result that could have ended 15 years of political turmoil in Southeast Asia’s second largest economy.
Both the pro-army party seeking to keep coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha on as prime minister and the opposition party linked to self-exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra، claimed they would command enough parliamentary seats to form a coalition government.
The pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai party said it was considering a legal challenge over what it said were poll irregularities after partial results showed Prayuth’s Palang Pracharat party with an unexpected lead in the popular vote.
The strong early showing for Palang Pracharat increased the likelihood that Prayuth، who was army chief when he overthrew a Pheu Thai government in 2014، would stay in power، although that outcome was not certain.
“There are irregularities in this election that we’re not comfortable with. These affect the nation’s credibility and people’s trust،” said Sudarat Keyuraphan، candidate for prime minister of the Pheu Thai Party.