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.

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: Business Development Manager - OTE £40,000

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Contracts / Sales Administrator

£19500 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Knowledge of and ability to use...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Engineer - Powered Access

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They pride themselves that they...

Recruitment Genius: Pharmacy Branch Manager

£19000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This pharmacy group are looking...

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