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Four Main Parties Reject 'Sham' Election

Representatives from four non-ruling parties gathered at opposition headquarters Monday to reject Sunday's national election as "a sham," after the ruling Cambodian People's Party appeared to have won enough seats to form a single-party government.

Top officials of the Sam Rainsy, Human Rights, Norodom Ranariddh and Funcinpec parties signed a letter calling on "Cambodian public opinion and the international community not to recognize the results of the July 27, 2008, elections, which were manipulated and rigged by the ruling Cambodian People's Party."

There have not been five separate parties elected to the National Assembly since the 1993 Untac elections, and the joining together of four against one is unprecedented.

In 1998, the Sam Rainsy and Funcinpec parties joined together to protest election results in the wake of the 1997 coup.

That three-month crisis of government led to mass demonstrations in the capital and a brutal crackdown by government forces, where scores of demonstrators were disappeared and presumed killed.

In 2003, the government was deadlocked for 11 months, due to an alliance between Funcinpec and SRP that prevented a coalition government.

"We have already strengthened together to deny the results of the election, and also for the voters," opposition leader Sam Rainsy told a large crowd gathered at his headquarters Monday afternoon. "We need to revote across Cambodia."

"We appeal to the EU and the international community to deny the results, because there are so many irregularities during the election," Human Rights Party Presdient Kem Sokha told the same cheering crowd.

The parties "hope in the future will have an alliance together" and have the same goals, he said.

The main point for the alliance would be to send a message to the people "who love justice" to come to work together.

The four parties condemned "illegal and fraudulent practices" in Sunday's polls, including "deletion of countless legitimate voters' names and [an] artificial increase in the CPP voters to cast their ballots for the CPP."

The parties also condemned "the tricks and maneuvers of the National Election Committee, which is only a tool for the CPP to organize a sham election and present a façade of democracy."

"I'm not surprised about this information," NEC Chairman Im Sousdey told reporters Monday. "We always see after the election Cambodian political parties doing the same thing."

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Monday unofficial results now showed the CPP with 90 seats, followed by the Sam Rainsy Party with 26, Human Rights Party with three, Norodom Ranariddh with two, and Funcinpec with two.

Khieu Thai Sarakmony, a 57-year-old from Phnom Penh who joined the crowd at SRP headquarters Monday, said he supported the cooperation of the four parties for the people.

"But it should have been earlier," he said, "before the election."