BANGKOK – The international observation mission granted accreditation to monitor the March 24 general election in Thailand said on Tuesday that although polling was generally transparent and orderly, the tabulation and consolidation of ballots were deeply flawed.
The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) said in a preliminary report that “voting processes on Election Day ran smoothly, albeit characterized by some variances in the implementation of procedures which did not significantly impact the quality of voter experience or the integrity of the ballot.”
However, ANFREL said the “tabulation and consolidation of ballots were deeply flawed, which led to an announcement of some preliminary results that were wildly inaccurate on election night” which damaged the “perceived integrity of the general election.”
It also pointed out concerns during the campaign period, such as allegations of vote buying and a “broad and deep” abuse of government resources to benefit the Palang Pracharat party, which supports the military regime that has governed the country since the coup of 2014.
The organization also said that the legal framework for the election “contains a variety of undemocratic provisions which tilt the electoral playing field, provide the unelected National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) with extraordinary powers which continue up to, and in some areas beyond, the formation of a new government, and impose restrictions on the fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly.”
The NCPO has the authority to handpick the 250 members of the senate, who along with the 500-member parliament for which Thais voted on Sunday, will decide the new prime minister and government.
The Election Commission has yet to announce the official poll results and has until May 9 to do so.
The 45-day delay is lawful but the EC should foster the public’s trust by revealing them as soon as possible, ANFREL Secretary-General Rohana Nishanta Hettiarachchie, said in a press conference.
Hettiarachchie added that many Thais “don’t fully trust the electoral system” designed by the military but refused to answer repeated questions from several reporters about whether the elections had been fair or not.
Meanwhile, the European External Action Service issued a statement late Monday in which it said it was important that “reported irregularities are resolved swiftly and transparently.”