Talks on Tackling Cambodia’s Election Irregularities Collapse

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National Election Committee officials check ballot counts at the commitee's offices in Phnom Penh on Aug. 3, 2013.
National Election Committee officials check ballot counts at the commitee's offices in Phnom Penh on Aug. 3, 2013.

Talks between Cambodia’s ruling and opposition parties aimed at investigating widespread irregularities that marred hotly contested national elections have broken down, with the opposition set to hold a mass demonstration demanding U.N. intervention in the dispute.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) walked out on weekend talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the National Election Committee (NEC) after its demands to include the U.N. in a proposed panel that would investigate irregularities in the disputed July 28 vote were rejected.

The two parties, which have both claimed victory in the polls, and the government-appointed NEC, which manages the country’s elections, had met on Saturday to discuss a joint probe into CNRP’s claim of mass irregularities in the vote.

A day later, the CNRP and NEC said the talks could go no further, as the proposal to include the U.N. has been rejected by the election body.

The CNRP had insisted that any joint investigation committee must comprise officials from the party as well as the CPP, local civil society groups, and national and international observers, with the United Nations acting as an arbitrator.

“We want the United Nations to act as the referee and the NEC to act as the coordinator,” CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann told RFA’s Khmer Service.

"We can't allow the same people who created the problem to resolve the irregularities,” he said, blaming the CPP and the government-appointed NEC for a series of irregularities, including the delisting of more than a million people from the voters’ list.

NEC 'regret'

NEC Secretary General Tep Nytha said he was disappointed that the talks had failed, as the committee could not accept the CNRP’s request.

He said that the NEC will move ahead with an investigation on its own.

"The NEC will continue to do the work,” he told RFA.

A statement on the committee’s website said a meeting planned for Sunday among the CPP, CNRP, and NEC “could not take place due to the fact that the CNRP estimated that the proposed composition of the ad hoc committee was too narrow and contrary to the wishes of the CNRP.”

“The NEC regrets that its attempt [to resolve the issue over the irregularities] could not succeed,” it said.

CNRP President Sam Rainsy meets with supporters in Prey Veng province, Aug. 5, 2013. Photo credit: RFA. RFA
The CPP claims its review of results showed that it has secured 68 seats and the CNRP won 55, while the CNRP maintains that based on its own calculations, it won 63 seats and the CPP took 60. The NEC has not declared the official results.

CNRP chief Sam Rainsy and deputy chief Kem Sokha have called for a mass demonstration in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on Tuesday to demand the election irregularities be addressed with U.N. oversight.

"We must protect our victory. We must not allow dictators to continue another five years,” CNRP President Sam Rainsy said at a rally in Prey Veng province, clearly referring to Hun Sen, who has ruled the impoverished country for 28 years and has faced persistent accusations of trampling on human rights and silencing political dissent.

Hun Sen, Southeast Asia's longest-serving prime minister, has said that his CPP will move to convene the National Assembly and establish the new government by the end of September even if CNRP's lawmakers refuse to accept the CPP-produced results that were endorsed also by the NEC.

But observers have challenged the legality of any such move, saying even with all 68 seats that it claims the CPP will lack a quorum of 120 lawmakers needed to open a new session of the National Assembly, which holds the key to endorsing any new government.

CPP to take ‘all 123 seats’

CPP senior party member Chheang Von said Monday that if the CNRP boycotts the assembly, the CPP will take over its seats.

He said Cambodia’s laws state that when lawmakers of one party boycott the National Assembly so that it cannot convene, the seats belonging to that party are divided among the other parties in the assembly—which in this case is only the CPP, he told RFA’s Khmer Service.

“It is not necessary to have at least 120 lawmakers for the first assembly session," he said.

Legal experts and CNRP officials, however, contend that in order to have a valid government and assembly, the CNRP lawmakers must participate in the session.  

"Article 76 of the Constitution says the assembly must have at least 120 lawmakers," CNRP senior party member Son Chhay told RFA, adding that a July 2003 decision by the country’s Constitutional Council had reaffirmed the rule.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.

Comments (7)

Som Ritthy

from Phnom Penh

My Deep Concern about 5 Year more Leading by Hun Sen.

As I am a Cambodian resident living in this country, I have found that Hun Sen has been working for his party only. Anyway, I don't care who will be the prime minister of this poor country, but i care only:
1. No more Vietnamese People living illegally in Cambodia
2. The Leader has to think about the nation first and more significantly.
3. Can reduce the corruption
4. Make the people's standard of living better
5. Improve the quality of education (More Human Resources)


Aug 12, 2013 05:58 AM

Anonymous Reader

Chea Samnang wake up brother or sister. After 28 years of Mr. Hun's leadership where is Cambodia compare to the rest of the world? We are at the bottom in every category. Our people is still live under the poverty line. There is virtually no justice system, only for the riches & famous The country is ran by THUGS! There is no respect for rules of laws.

Aug 08, 2013 04:40 AM

Chea Samnang

from Phnom Penh

And when this Sam Rainsy fellow steps into power, do any of you fellow Khmer really believe he will delivery on ANY of his promise? Do you think our Viet neighbor will stand for him threaten to kill al Viet? Do you think factory will stay if he raise minimum wage? Do you think he is not corrupt too? Why does he not even stay in Cambodia? Self exile? Give me a break, France and Australia, he doesn't stay in neighboring Thailand or Lao to be close to his country, he just go to nice holiday destination and then hang out doing nothing.

I don't like CPP at all, but Sam Rainsy and his people are loser too. No Cambodia, wake up. Our stupid facebook generation of lazy youth are going to crash this country if you elect this man. Don't just look at the propaganda, look outside with your eyes!

Aug 07, 2013 01:18 AM

Cry for Justice

from U.S.A

Chea Samnang, I strongly believe Mr. Rainsy, who gave up his post as a French's company CEO to serve our country, will do better in every category. Our people's lives will improve to the point where we will catch up with the rest of the world in few years. How would you like to visit America, France, Japan..etc. freely without restriction. This is what Cambodia will become under CNRP. If you real Khmer wake up and fight for your rights! "YES, WE CAN"

Aug 08, 2013 04:47 AM

Anonymous Reader

Have you ever heard expression, "never judge a book by its cover?" Sam Rainsy has never given chance to govern the country and you already pre-judged him. How about give him that chance to prove you wrong. On the other hand, hun sen has proven time and time again that he can't govern the country for all people. You said so yourself that you hate hun sen. If you hate both hun sen and sam rainsy, who do you have in mind running the country? Perhaps you have secret aspiration. Please us know.

Aug 08, 2013 07:52 AM

Anonymous Reader

Finally karma has caught up with sen. Cnrp won the election, no doubt. Cambodian people have spoken, hun sen gotta go!! Cnrp will runthe country. Hun sen need to stepdown now!!

Aug 07, 2013 12:22 AM

Anonymous Reader

from los angeles

Step down Mr. Hun for the sake of cambodia. You had lead the country for 28 yrs and that enough time already. Just retire, play golf, and go the temple to pray for your sin.
Stop lying and talking like a gangster.

Aug 06, 2013 10:08 AM

Koun Khmer

from Phnom Penh

Step down from power Mr. Hun Sen . Your rolling party destroyed all kinds of national natural resources,full of corruption,lost land ( Kosh Tral)and Vietnamese everywhere in Cambodia,low rank of government officers cannot effort to pay for their health car even for one day with current low wage.Police chief posts,and chief military commanders,district,and provincial governors conducted many kinds of corruptions; such as supported illegal logging,fishing, mines.The serious one is land abused.

Koun Khmers do hope You Hun Sen should get off from power with peacefulness and a billion of Dollars in Vietnam. Khmer suffer enough.


Aug 07, 2013 07:14 AM

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