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Opposition Demonstrators March on Western Embassies

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy leads supporters to submit petitions to Western embassies urging them not to recognize the government and calling for an independent investigation into alleged election irregularities, Phnom Penh, Oct 24, 2013. (Heng Reaksmey
PHNOM PENH - In a second day of demonstrations Thursday, supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party marched on Western embassies, calling for support in its demands for improved elections and democracy.

CNRP leaders say irregularities and fraud in July’s national elections cost them a win at the polls.

They have demanded that Western governments not recognize the current regime in Phnom Penh, which was formed without the participation of opposition lawmakers elect in the National Assembly.

Demonstrators marched to the embassies of the United States, France and the UK, delivering a petition that calls for an election investigation.

Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy told reporters outside the French Embassy that France, as a signatory to the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, maintains an interest in Cambodian democracy.

“France has urged all Khmer parties to a settlement with non-violence and justice,” he said.

In a statement earlier this month, France welcomed the July elections, but urged both the ruling and opposition parties to hold talks and end their political deadlock.

At the US Embassy, Sam Rainsy said supporters had delivered both a petition and a separate letter to US President Barack Obama, urging him to help Cambodia achieve “real democracy.”

US officials too have called on Cambodia to launch a credible investigation into widespread allegations of irregularities and fraud in the July polls, which gave the ruling Cambodian People’s Party 68 National Assembly seats to the opposition’s 55.

More demonstrations are expected Friday.