Cambodian Election Body Endorses CPP Victory Despite Vote Fraud Charges

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Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) waves after casting his vote in elections in Kandal province, July 28, 2013

Cambodia's election authority confirmed Sunday that Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party has won the July 28 national polls but the opposition rejected the final result, saying it would boycott parliament and continue with protests until an independent probe on vote fraud charges is conducted.

The government-appointed National Election Committee (NEC) ratified preliminary results showing the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won 68 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly, the country's parliament, and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) gained 55 seats.

The NEC said the CPP won 3.2 million votes compared to CNRP's 2.9 million votes, the worst result obtained by Hun Sen's party in more than a decade. The CPP also lost its two-thirds majority in the legislature.

The CNRP, which claimed it won at least 63 seats based on its own calculations, rejected the final result in a statement on Sunday.

CNRP leader Sam Rainsy said the NEC tally was based on "voter fraud," which he wants investigated by an independent panel.

Voters delisted

The opposition has highlighted various election irregularities, including a claim that one million voters had been delisted from the electoral rolls. Many voters had complained on polling day that they could not vote.

“Voters would not accept the election result and will protest ... until they receive justice through the establishment of an independent committee to investigate election irregularities,” Sam Rainsy told a press conference.

"If the CPP wants to win with dignity, they must establish an independent committee,” Sam Rainsy said.

He claimed that major donor countries such as Japan, South Korea, the European Union, and the United States do not recognize the election result.

He accused the CPP of "using" the NEC and Cambodia's top court, the Constitutional Council, to legitimize its claim of a poll victory.

Parliament boycott

Sam Rainsy also said that his party would stay out of parliament.

Hun Sen, 61, who has been in power for 28 years and accused of blatant human rights violations, had said previously that he could convene parliament even without the CNRP's participation.

Some constitutional experts have said that the opposition MPs must be present at the first parliamentary session for any new government to be endorsed. The CPP claims however it is entitled to convene parliament because it has 50 percent of the seats.

The NEC's announcement of the final result on Sunday deprives the opposition of mounting any legal challenge questioning the election findings.

The Constitutional Council, the country's top arbiter, on Friday dismissed all complaints of election irregularities filed by the CNRP although it criticized and sought punishment for NEC staff for mishandling secured ballot packages.

Sam Rainsy said his party plans to hold three consecutive demonstrations on Sept. 15, 16 and 17. The CNRP drew nearly 30,000 people at a rally on Saturday convened to back its demand for an independent polls probe.

CPP unfazed

The CPP, meanwhile, hailed the NEC's final result in a statement and vowed to "defend" it.

CPP lawmaker Chheang Von said the CPP would not be intimidated by the opposition threat of mass protests.

"The royal government of Cambodia must be established by the wining party. They have the right to participate or not to participate in the [National] Assembly. The winning party will lead the national policy and the government,” he said.

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


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