Cambodia's Opposition Announces Daily Protests to Demand Re-Election

CNRP leader Sam Rainsy (C) speaks to supporters during a demonstration in Phnom Penh, Oct. 25, 2013.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) announced Friday that it would hold daily demonstrations from this weekend to push the government for a re-election following allegations of fraud and other irregularities in the July polls.

CNRP President Sam Rainsy made the announcement on his Facebook page in a change of strategy after the party's continuous call for an independent probe into the allegations were dismissed by Prime Minister Hun Sen's government.

“The CNRP’s Permanent Committee has just decided that we will organize demonstrations everyday non-stop," Sam Rainsy said. "We will demand to have a re-election to be held soon."

He said that the party decision would be announced at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh on Sunday, when the first of the demonstrations will kick off to push for new elections.

He called in a non-violent attempt to bring about change based on democratic principles.

"Please, compatriots, participate in the demonstrations," he said in his posting. "We will hold mass demonstrations non-stop across the country. Our commitment will bring a success to demand a re-election and a nonviolent social change based on democratic principles.”

There was no immediate reaction from the government on the move by the CNRP,  which has boycotted parliament over the disputed July 28 polls.

Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) had asked the CNRP last week to cancel its planned mass demonstrations, saying the two parties should resume negotiations to end a four-month political deadlock.

The CPP "is prepared to talk to seek a solution," the Ministry of the Interior’s Secretary of State and senior CPP official Prum Sokha told RFA's Khmer Service. "Only negotiations can result in solutions, not the demonstrations," he had said.

Previous CNRP protests involved tens of thousands of supporters, with demonstrators delivering petitions to the missions of the U.N. and foreign embassies in Cambodia, demanding international intervention in the election crisis.

Political deadlock

CNRP lawmakers have refused to join parliament unless their call for an investigation into the polls are met, leaving the party in a political deadlock with the CPP, which had been declared polls winner by the National Election Committee (NEC), which oversees the country's elections.

Talks between the two parties have stalled after the latest meeting last month yielded little progress.

The CNRP has insisted the talks must have on the agenda discussions about an investigation into poll fraud, resignation of election officials, and implementation of recommendations from U.N. experts and NGOs on electoral and other reforms.

CNRP deputy president, Kem Sokha had said recently that the party was determined to get to the bottom of the election irregularities.

“We want to send a message to the government and the NEC that we are demanding the truth, and if they don’t give us the truth, we will demand a re-election,” Kem Sokha told RFA’s Khmer Service.

He said the party was hoping to see 300,000 people—or a tenth of the 3 million people the CNRP says voted for it in the polls—turn out for the demonstration on Sunday.

“We will make the [Dec. 15] mass demonstration bigger in all respects,” Kem Sokha had said.

The CNRP has claimed that election irregularities, including the removal of 1 million voters from the electoral rolls, robbed it of election victory.

The NEC awarded the CPP 68 parliamentary seats to the CNRP’s 55 in the election, but the CNRP claims it won at least 63 seats.

Reported by Samean Yun for RFA's Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

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