Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cambodia opposition party seeks UN help to resolve disputed poll

AFP/Phnom Penh
Cambodia’s opposition leader Sam Rainsy yesterday called on the UN to help resolve the country’s disputed election in order to protect “the victory” of the people.

The nation has been stuck in a political impasse since Premier Hun Sen’s long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) claimed it had won last month’s poll - one of the most hotly contested votes seen in the country.
Rainsy, who returned from self-imposed exile to lead the opposition after receiving a surprise pre-election royal pardon, has claimed his Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) actually won the July 28 poll.

“Tomorrow, we will hold a big rally... to demand the UN comes and resolves the election problem in order to protect the victory of the Cambodian people,” Rainsy told a small rally in the capital Phnom Penh.
The CPP said it had secured an estimated 68 of the 123 lower house seats, with CNRP taking 55.

But the result - marking the lowest support for Hun Sen’s party since 1998 - has been rejected by the opposition, who claim widespread voting irregularities.

Rainsy has said his party won a majority of 63 seats and has vowed to prevent the CPP “stealing victory”.
The official result is not expected until later this month.

Rainsy’s CNRP on Saturday agreed to work with the CPP and the National Election Committee to set up a joint committee to probe alleged election fraud.

But Rainsy has since said his party will not be involved in the process until the UN is allowed to referee the investigation, a level of involvement rejected by the government and the NEC. They say the international body can only act as an observer.

“We do not trust NEC at all. We will join the investigation only when the UN comes,” Rainsy told reporters.
On Friday, the UN said that disputes over the election must be “adjudicated fairly” but added it had not yet been asked to join any enquiry.

The US also urged a probe into alleged misconduct but said the opposition gains marked a positive step toward democracy.

Hun Sen - who has been in power for 28 years - has welcomed a probe but has also vowed to establish a government under his leadership if the opposition refuses to join parliament.

The 60-year-old former Khmer Rouge cadre, who defected from the murderous regime, has vowed to rule until he is 74.

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