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Thailand’s opposition parties form alliance against junta

The leaders of a coalition of Thai political parties attend a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 27, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Seven opposition parties in Thailand have agreed to form an alliance in an attempt to seize power from the ruling junta-backed party, which gained power after a 2014 coup.

Pheu Thai, the largest opposition party linked to the exiled billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, and six other parties announced at a press conference in Bangkok on Wednesday that they had formed a “democratic front” with enough seats to form a slender majority in the kingdom’s lower House of Representatives. 

They said they had signed the agreement to work together in order to overpower the Prayuth Chan-ocha Party from forming the next government. 

“We are seven parties that have gained the majority of votes from people who have trusted us to work in the house of representatives,” the leader of the Pheu Thai Party, Sudarat Keyuraphan, told reporters. “We are signing the joint statement to stop the power succession of the junta.”

The parties said they could claim 255 seats in the 500-seat house.

The development comes following parliamentary elections in the country. The results of the elections have not been released yet. Exit polls showed earlier that Pheu Thai would win 163 seats, which would be a majority though not enough to form a government.

Despite the formation of the new coalition, the opposition parties will most likely fail to gain power because, under a new constitution, 250 senators appointed by the junta will join together with the 500 lower house MPs to elect the next prime minister.

On Wednesday, absent from the agreement were two of the leading opposition parties: the Democratic Party, and Bhumjaithai, headed by billionaire politician Anutin Charnvirakul.

Bhumjaithai's decision to join either a pro-junta or “democratic front” government could be the determining factor for  where the next prime minister hails from.

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