Thai pol parties reach deal on forming post-coup coalition

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Bangkok, Dec 31 (UNI) The political party, backing ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, which won the most seats in the parliamentary elections formally announced today it had reached a deal with three small political allies to form a coalition government.

The claim was buttressed by the leader of another party with the third largest number of seats in parliament confirming today that his group too would join the coalition government.

The People Power Party (PPP), which won 233 of 480 parliamentary seats in the December 23 election, said its tentative four-party coalition controlled about 254 seats.

PPP's leader Samak Sundaravej announcement, made before confirmation of poll results by the Election Commission, was originally scheduled for January 4, 2008 but it was advanced to foil a bid by PPP opponents in the present military ruling establishment to keep the party from taking office.

The leaders of the three small groups which pledged support to a PPP-led government were also present.

Former prime minister Banharn Silpa-archa, whose Chart Thai party has won 37 seats, said his group would join the PPP-led government.

The Chart Thai would meet another smaller party tomorrow to formally accept the PPP's invitation to the two groups, he said.

The national election commission yesterday issued red cards to three elected PPP members of parliament after investigating charges of electoral malpractice. This disqualified the PPP from contesting the by elections to the three seats.

Political observers expect more red cards to be issued to victorious PPP candidates.

''I hope the coalition alliance will stop the malicious attempts by an individual outside of politics to cause an upset to the voting outcome and derail the chance for the People Power to form the next government,'' Mr Samak told reporters.

A senior member of coup-ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's Thai Rak Thai party today accused the national Election Commission of acting at the coup leaders' behest to sabotage the PPP's chances of government formation.

''The election commission should not allow the coup leaders to use it as a tool to wipe out the overwhelming mandate of the people given to the People Power,'' he said.

The former Thai Rak Thai leader, who is one of 111 former executives of his now disbanded party, said he was worried that the poll panel would issue a large number of red cards to winning PPP candidates.

UNI

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