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Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 08:43 GMT
Thai election winners disqualified
Results board in Bangkok
A by-election must be held within two months
By Simon Ingram in Bangkok

Thai election officials are meeting to discuss its decision to disqualify more than a third of the candidates who won seats in the recent elections for the upper house of parliament, or Senate.

In what is being seen as a significant blow against political corruption, the Thai Election Commission cancelled the victories recorded by a number of high-profile figures, including the wives of two ministers and several shadowy figures from the business world.


election banners cleared from streets
Thailand voted in early March
What newspapers here are calling Thailand's list of shame comprises 78 candidates alleged to have cheated their way to victory in the Senate elections earlier this month.

Previously, the government had appointed members of the upper house and the vote was seen as a litmus test of Thailand's efforts to reinforce democratic practices.

The poll was accompanied by loud complaints of fraud, especially in some remoter northern provinces, where vote buying and other dubious tactics are a long-standing tradition.

High-profile candidates

Now, in what is being seen as a display of considerable political courage, the election commission has cancelled the victories recorded by the wives of the interior and justice ministers, the sister of another government minister and a retired army officer who led one of Thailand's many military coups.

Some of the disgraced candidates have angrily protested their innocence.

What the commission must now decide is how many of them will be permitted to run again in the by-elections, which must be held within the next two months.

Its decision means only 122 senators have been confirmed, raising the question as to whether the upper house can function at all until the rest of the seats are declared.

The tough line adopted by the commission is meant to send a strong signal to the mainstream political parties as they prepare for the more important lower house elections later this year.

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05 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Shadow cast over Thai elections
04 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Thailand votes for senate
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