PHNOM PENH —
Cambodia’s National Election Committee on Sunday released official election results, handing a win to the ruling party and sparking another round of rejections from the opposition.
The NEC maintained its preliminary results, announcing 68 of 123 National Assembly seats for the Cambodian People’s Party and 55 seats for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.
Official results of Cambodia's 2013 general elections announced by its National Election Committee (NEC) on Sunday, September 08, 2013. (Courtesy of NEC)
The Rescue Party immediately rejected the results and said it would continue with demonstrations against an election system it sees as deeply flawed.
“It did not reflect the will of the citizens,” opposition leader Sam Rainsy told reporters Sunday, referring to the NEC announcement. “On the contrary, it was a fraud, a betrayal of the will of the citizens.”
The Rescue Party has sought an independent investigation into widespread allegations of election irregularities, without which its members have threatened to boycott the formation of a new government. By law, the two sides should convene to form a new National Assembly and government by Sept. 28.
Independent political analyst Lao Mong Hay said Sunday’s announcement would likely mean a continuance of post-election tension between the ruling and opposition parties.
Uth Chhorn, a member of the Constitutional Council, which acts as the appeals body for election arbitration, said the opposition’s complaints were found mostly without merit. He rejected opposition allegations that the Council is biased toward the CPP.
“We reviewed each and every law with the utmost attention,” he said. “There was no clear evidence produced. There was no basis for argument. Therefore, their protests at this stage are baseless, according to our view.”
The Rescue Party staged a rally of some 20,000 supporters a day before the announcement, demanding an investigation into irregularities and an accurate reflection of voters whom it says were left out of the process.
The rally took place without incident at the government-sanctioned public square called Freedom Park. Participants said they would not be satisfied with flawed results.
“Before, we were afraid, but now not anymore,” Chan Saing, an electrician in Phnom Penh, told VOA Khmer on Saturday. “We are so poor that we find it hard to live. I myself cannot feed my two children now.”
Cheam Yiep, a senior CPP lawmaker, said further demonstrations by the Rescue Party would be a “waste of time.” “It loses people’s interest, only,” he said.
However, Thun Saray, head of the rights group Adhoc and director of the board for the election-monitoring group Comfrel, told VOA Khmer that Sunday’s announcement, following a period of Council decisions that favored the CPP, likely meant more problems ahead.
“The National Assembly and the government in the future will face problems with legitimacy and recognition from the national and international” communities, he said.
Sam Rainsy said Sunday he will continue to hold protests, “to seek the truth” through an independent investigation.
“The truth is the foundation for providing justice to voters,” he said. “That’s the real result, a fair result, a complete result. But that’s not the result they announced this morning at all.”