Monday, May 20, 2013

Cambodia's Opposition Party Stages 2nd Protest to Demand Election Reforms

Kem Sokha, the CNRP's vice-president speaking to demonstrators in May 20, 2013. PHOTO: QUOC VIET/RFA
TEHRAN (FNA)- Cambodia National Rescue Party ( CNRP), the kingdom's main opposition party, held the second peaceful protest on Monday to demand election reforms and return of its self-exiled leader Sam Rainsy ahead of a general election in July.

Some 2,500 protesters gathered at the capital's Freedom Park, holding posters read "Support UN recommendations", "Change the National Election Committee", and "No Sam Rainsy, No Free and Fair Election", Xinhua reported.

Speaking through a microphone to the rally, Kem Sokha, the CNRP's vice-president, said the 2nd protest was to demand the change of key members at the National Election Committee, saying that they are biased towards the ruling Cambodian People's Party of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The protesters also appealed to the National Election Committee to accept the recommendations of Surya P. Subedi, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights to Cambodia, who has urged election reforms, and called for an audit of the national voter list, which is believed that it is inaccurate.

In addition, they demanded the return of their self-exiled leader Sam Rainsy in order to join the forthcoming polls.

Sam Rainsy, 63, fled the country in late 2009 before Cambodian court sentenced him to 11 years in prison in absentia for two charges-removing border poles and publishing a false map of the border with Vietnam and accusing Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong of being a member of the Democratic Kampuchea, or known as Khmer Rouge.

After the gathering for a couple of hours at the Freedom Park, protestors marched to the headquarters of the European Commission to Cambodia to submit a petition; then, they marched to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia to file the same petition to Surya P. Subedi, visiting United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights to Cambodia.

"We seek interventions from them in order to push for reforms at the National Election Committee to ensure a free and fair election in Cambodia," said Kem Sokha.

The opposition members held such protest on April 24, but their demand was rejected by Secretary General of the National Election Committee Tep Nytha.

Nytha defended that the committee is "independent and does everything in accordance with the law".

Cambodia is scheduled to hold a general election on July 28. According the National Election Committee, eight political parties had registered to run in the upcoming election, which will be voted by some 9.67 million Cambodians.

Analysts predict that the ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen will definitely win the majority in the upcoming polls.

Hun Sen, 61, has been in power for 28 years and vowed to stay in the office until he is 74.

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