Both sides claim victory in Cambodia’s murky elections

Opposition candidate Sam Rainsy declares win at polls but Hun Sen government contests it

Phnom Penh

Cambodia was in a state of political paralysis tonight, as the country’s opposition leader Sam Rainsy claimed victory in disputed elections that appeared to show support for the incumbent – Prime Minister Hun Sen – had plummeted.

With Sunday’s election results still unofficial amid claims of widespread fraud, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party said that it had won at least 63 seats and the ruling party had won no more than 60.

The government – which also declared victory and said it would push ahead towards establishing a Cabinet – was forced to deny rumours that Prime Minister Hun Sen had fled the country after 28 years in power amid the controversy. “This is psychological warfare that ill-intentioned people always fabricate in order to poison the social atmosphere,” the government said in a statement.

Following Sunday’s poll, the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) claimed it had won 68 seats – 22 less than in 2008 elections – against 55 for the opposition.

Mr Rainsy’s party has threatened to rally its supporters to stage countrywide protests if the government does not set up a joint investigation to look into accusations of election fraud, a solution backed by the United States and the European Union. “There is a democratic change in the air in Cambodia,” said Mr Rainsy.

The ruling party rejected the proposal, denying any wrongdoing while calling for complaints to be addressed by the election commission, a body analysts say is part of the ruling party’s state apparatus.

Transparency International Cambodia (TIC), an election watchdog funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said that Cambodia’s closest election since the 1990s saw “disenfranchisement of citizens and suspect voting” as it backed the opposition’s call for an independent inquiry.

TIC monitors across Cambodia reported unregistered vehicles ferrying large groups of voters to polling stations, electoral lists missing the names of hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters and “indelible” ink that washed off all too easily, enabling multiple voting.

In polling stations in the capital Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal province, many young people turned into informal election monitors as they spoke out against violations by a government accused of massive corruption and land-grabbing in recent years.

In the prime minister’s home town of Takmau, just south of the capital, student Mao Sophorn pointed out duplicated names on electoral lists at two polling stations less than 50 metres apart.

“If the election is fair, the opposition would win,” he said after voting for the CNRP.

Pong Visko, a recent graduate working in Phnom Penh, said he didn’t even get the chance to vote. After travelling by bus for more than three hours to his hometown of Kampong Cham in central Cambodia, he said he watched his father, mother, sister and brother all cast ballots. “But they didn’t have my name,” he said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us