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Low Turnout, Faulty Lists Sully Election


Low voter turnout and the absence of many names from registries darkened a quiet day of voting Sunday, as millions of Cambodians sought to elect members of the National Assembly and a government that will rule for the next five years.

Unofficial results showed the ruling Cambodian People's Party with enough seats to form a government by itself, as well as pass constitutional amendments and quorum without cooperation from other parties.

As polling wrapped up Sunday, unofficial results showed the CPP leading with an estimated 91 seats, followed by the Sam Rainsy Party with 26, Human Rights Party with three, and Norodom Ranariddh Party with two. Only one seat was reported late Sunday for the government's coalition partner, Funcinpec.

These results would mean the National Assembly would have five parties for the first time since the 1993 Untac election. Official results for the election are not expected for at least a month.

A new law this election requires the holding of 50-percent-plus-one seats, or 63 seats, to form a ruling government. It also requires a two-thirds majority, or 82 seats, for constitutional amendment and quorum.

In Phnom Penh, many shops were shuttered and the normally bustling boulevards were relatively still, while on neighborhood side streets, Cambodians in ones and twos strolled to and from polling sites.

Across the country, voters reported an inability to cast their ballots, as names of individuals or entire families were missing from local registries at polling places.

More than 8.1 million voters had registered for the national election, but monitors feared only around 70 percent participated, following similarly low turnout in the 2007 commune election. More than 83 percent of registered voters took part in 2003's general election.

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections said late Sunday the day had "serious problems," including the loss of names to voter lists and confusion over polling station locations.

Some parties had transported voters in vehicles on Saturday and distributed gifts to voters, violations of election regulations, Comfrel said.

Military police were seen using vehicles to transport voters in Battambang province, where disputes between opposition and ruling party activists erupted.

In Svay Rieng province, voters lined up inside CPP headquarters in order to receive receipts from a party official. Voters said later they would be reimbursed with gifts for the receipts, an allegation the CPP denied. Svay Rieng results showed nearly 100 percent of seats going to the CPP.

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