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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Internal Sales Executive - Hair & Beauty - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company supplies the ultim...

Recruitment Genius: Design, Marketing and Media Manager

£27000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: HR Assistant

£17447 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is a leading centre fo...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler is requi...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence