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Thai Prime Minister: Open to All Proposals After Boycotted Early Elections

Early returns from Sunday's snap election in Thailand indicate Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's party will win a majority as expected because of a boycott by the main political opposition. But he will have difficulty forming a new government because many Thais cast their ballots for no candidate rather than the ruling party. Thailand's political crisis is likely to continue for some time.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra Monday said he is open to all options after Sunday's election - which he called early in the hopes of ending anti-government protests.

He says he is ready to discuss any proposals for national reconciliation.

The prime minister made the offer as unofficial election results in Bangkok indicated "no candidate" votes outnumbered votes for the prime minister's Thai Rak Thai party.

It appears many voters used their ballots to support the opposition's boycott of the election.

So even though Mr. Thaksin's party may win a majority of votes, there could be dozens of seats in parliament left vacant. By law, there will have to be by-elections to fill those seats before any new government is formed.

Delays are expected to prolong the political crisis Mr. Thaksin had hoped to resolve by calling these elections three years early.

The crisis began in January when the Thaksin family sold nearly two billion dollars of corporate shares - while legally avoiding taxes.

The prime minister since then has faced almost daily street protests accusing him of corruption and abuse of office - charges he denies.

The head of the Democrat Party, which boycotted the vote, Abdhisit Vejjajiva, says the opposition is firm in its demand the prime minister resign.

He says the results show many people did not believe an election was the way to resolve the current leadership crisis.

Organizers of the mass protests said they would resume their anti-Thaksin rallies beginning Wednesday.

A senior Thaksin advisor, Suranand Vejjajiva acknowledges the election does not appear to achieve what the government had hoped.

"I think we are a little bit disappointed about the Bangkok vote but we can understand that and we probably have to take that into consideration for our next steps," he said.

The head of the Forum Asia civic group, Gothom Arya, says there were some irregularities, including the fact that it was essentially a one-party election in a democratic country.

"It makes the people feel unhappy because to begin with they are unhappy with the election itself, so any incidents is (are) aggravating that sentiment," he said.

The opposition and several monitoring groups plan to seek to have the courts annul the ballot on the grounds that the voting booths did not afford voter privacy and violated the right to secret ballots.