Confusion mounts as Thailand's election results delayed

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha talks to the media after voting at a polling station in Bangkok on March 24, 2019 during Thailand's general election.

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN)The outcome of Thailand's first post-coup elections was still unclear Monday with no party taking a decisive lead, amid mounting concerns over alleged voting irregularities and ongoing delays in the release of official results.

The elections are the first since the military took power in a coup in 2014, and are widely considered to be a contest between the pro-military bloc that wants junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha to remain in power and pro-democracy forces fighting to restore democracy to the country.
On Monday it appeared the pro-military party Palang Pracharat was neck and neck with the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, which is aligned with ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
    With 95% of the vote counted, Pheu Thai won 137 out of 350 seats, the Election Commission said Monday. The pro-military party Palang Pracharat took 97 seats.
    Parties are still waiting to hear how many party list lawmakers they will get -- 150 are up for grabs in the lower house and they could prove decisive in who wins a majority.
    It was enough for Thaksin-aligned Pheu Thai to announce that they would form a coalition government with any third party that does not support the return of the military.
    "We have been chosen to come in number one (in constituency lawmakers) therefore we will start to form a government as we have received consensus from people," Suradat Keyurapan, a prime ministerial candidate for Pheu Thai said Monday.
    Thaksin, or leaders connected to him, have previously won every election since 2001.
    Pheu Thai may be premature, however, as they will need to gain 376 seats to form an outright majority. It is unclear if they can muster enough support to achieve that with a legislature critics say is tipped in favor of the military.
    On Sunday, Palang Pracharat inched ahead in the popular vote with 7.69 million votes, while Pheu Thai Party received 7.2 million votes.
    The decision of the EC to delay and then drip feed the results has prompted criticism from many observers.
    When asked what the final results would be on Sunday, the commission's Chairman Ittiporn Boonprakong said, "I don't have a calculator with me now."
    Critics have also pointed to vote counting irregularities including nearly 2 million votes that were disqualified as "bad ballots."
    On Monday, Thais voiced their frustrations with the hashtags #PoTaek -- which loosely translates to "careless cheats are easily discovered" -- and #KongLuangTang -- "cheating elections" -- trending on Thai Twitter.