Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cambodia's election council rejects opposition's complaints over alleged poll fraud

The National Election Committee (NEC) of Cambodia has rejected complaints filed by the opposition party against the July 28 election, which showed the ruling party of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen won a majority of vote.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) of longtime opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Wednesday filed 17 complaints to the NEC against the initial poll results, claiming that there were irregularities in voter lists and ballot-rigging. "We have officially decided on those complaints already,"Tep Nytha, NEC's secretary general, told Xinhua over telephone Saturday.

He said the NEC rejected 13 complaints because the complainants had no concrete evidence to support their complaints, and the committee had held brief hearings for four complaints in order to verify votes in four provinces, but there was no any change to the election results. "The opposition party has rights to appeal to the Constitutional Council within 72 hours against the NEC's decision, "he said.

Kuy Bunroeun, deputy chief of the CNRP's administration department, said Saturday that an appeal would be filed to the Constitutional Council against the NEC's decision.

Tep Nytha said with the opposition's appeal, the final election results would be announced by Sept. 8.

Cambodia's political crisis has deepened since Monday when the NEC released initial poll results, showing that the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) of Prime Minister Hun Sen got 3.23 million votes and the CNRP received 2.94 million votes.

The CPP calculated that with its 3.23 million votes, the party won 68 seats of the 123 parliamentary seats, while the CNRP, with its 2.94 million votes, got the remaining 55 seats.

But the CNRP claimed that its party should win 63 seats, with the CPP getting the remaining 60 seats if an independent committee is formed to investigate and resolve poll irregularities.

CNRP's President Sam Rainsy expressed his confidence that Hun Sen would allow the establishment of an independent committee to look into the alleged irregularities. "Definitely, I believe that the committee will be set up because no one will recognize any government standing from fake election,"he told reporters at the Phnom Penh International Airport upon his return from the United States on Friday.

The opposition has requested a joint poll probe committee without the NEC as a referee, but the ruling CPP has repeatedly rejected any investigation not headed by the NEC, which is widely seen as being loyal to the ruling party.

NEC's secretary general Tep Nytha reiterated on Saturday that there was no need to further talk about the joint poll probe committee as the initial results had already been released.

CNRP's Vice President Kem Sokha said the party would boycott the first parliamentary session and call for a mass protest if a committee is still not established to investigate poll fraud. "If there is no an independent committee to look into poll irregularities, we will not attend the first National Assembly session; then, our last resort is a mass demonstration,"he told supporters at the party's headquarters Thursday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Aug. 2 that a new parliament and a new government would be established as scheduled despite the opposition's boycott.

According to the constitution, he said, a new government would be formed by a 50 percent plus one majority, or 63 lawmakers, in the new parliament.

Hun Sen, 61, who has been in power for 28 years, will continue to rule the country for another five years after the election victory.

A new parliament will be established no later than 60 days after the election, stipulated the constitution. Enditem