Cambodia's opposition leader Sam Rainsy rejects election results

Party demands an investigation into 'many irregularities'

The defeated opposition in Cambodia's general election has disputed the results of Sunday's poll - citing voting irregularities - despite admirable gains.

Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party retained power, but its 90 seats in the National Assembly were whittled down to 68. The Cambodia National Rescue Party - led by Hun Sen's long-time and bitter rival Sam Rainsy - took the remaining 55 seats, a major boost from the combined opposition total of 29 in the last parliament.

In a statement, the CNRP demanded a joint investigation - involving both parties, election officials and the UN - into what it claimed were huge irregularities.

Rainsy said: "The Cambodia National Rescue Party will not accept the election results that we have heard because there are many irregularities that occurred during the election.

“There were 1.2 million to 1.3 million people whose names were missing and could not vote. They deleted our rights to vote, how could we recognise this election?

“There were ghost names, names only on paper, over a million people that may been turned into votes.”

His party and nonpartisan groups charged that the ruling party used the machinery of government and security forces in an unfair manner to reward or pressure electors.

Their specific point of complaint is voter registration procedures, which they claim were badly flawed, possibly leaving more than 1 million people disenfranchised. The independent Committee for Free and Fair Elections said on Saturday that the ink with which voters were supposed to stain their fingers to prevent them from voting twice was not indelible as claimed.

Hun Sen's party and the government-appointed National Election Committee said the election process was fair.

The ruling party has control or dominating influence over all the state bureaucracy and the courts and will almost certainly affirm the CPP victory. Past appeals have not succeeded, and it was unclear what the opposition would do if its complaints were not sustained.

Rainsy himself was barred from candidacy or even voting, because he missed the registration deadlines. He stayed abroad for almost four years to avoid a jail term for convictions that he said were politically motivated.

He returned on July 19 after receiving a royal pardon at the behest of Hun Sen, an apparent appeasement of critics, including the US, who suggested Rainsy's exclusion was a major sign that the polls would not be free and fair.

Foreign countries such as the US have accepted the results of past elections with much more open intimidation and violence as fair enough, and will likely regard this year's results as a major step forward.

Giulia Zino, a Southeast Asia analyst at Control Risks group in Singapore, told Reuters: “It's definitely unprecedented and unexpected but for now I don't think regime stability is at stake.

“I think they are going to be able to govern unilaterally without taking into consideration the opposition too much.”

The two leaders' relationship - and animosity - stretch far back in the country's bloody recent history. Hun Sen defected to Vietnam during the 1975-79 genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge. When the neighbouring country invaded to oust the radical regime, it installed him first as foreign minister and later as prime minister.

He has been in power for 28 years and says he has no intention of stepping down soon. His authoritarian rule has given him a stranglehold over the state bureaucracy that makes challenges to his authority difficult to mount.

When his party ran second in 1993,  he insisted on being named co-prime minister, before ousting his partner in government four years later in a bloody coup. After election victories in later years, he showed a pattern of cracking down on critics.

Rainsy has long been the thorn in Hun Sen's side. The 64-year-old spent the Khmer Rouge years in France, reading economics and political science. As a member of a royalist party, he served as finance minister in the government elected in 1993, but was kicked out from his party and his post for his outspoken anti-corruption stand.

He founded his own party in 1995, and two years later narrowly escaped being killed in a grenade attack on a rally he was leading. The perpetrators were never brought to justice but were suspected of being linked to Hun Sen's bodyguards.

The general election was Cambodia's fifth since 1993, when the United Nations helped stage the country's first free polls since the Khmer Rouge and a subsequent period of civil war and one-party rule.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

CRM Data Analyst – Part time – Permanent – Surrey – Circa £28,000 pro rata

£15000 - £16800 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Mechanical Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A key client in the East Midlands are re...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobWe are looking ...

Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The Job...Due to continued ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice