Cambodia opposition claims massive poll fraud

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy alleges widespread irregularities in polls that saw ruling party claim victory.

    Cambodia's opposition party (CNRP) has rejected the ruling party's claim of victory in weekend parliamentary elections, alleging widespread irregularities, according to its leader.

    Sam Rainsy on Monday called for the creation of a special committee including representatives from both parties, as well as local and international experts to investigate the allegations and find a solution – either by holding new polls in the most severely affected provinces or re-running the entire election.

    "The committee has just to confirm that irregularities are so widespread that they have distorted the will of the Cambodian people. We want this fact to be recognised by everybody," Rainsy told Al Jazeera.

    "The investigation must be completed within a month. With political will, this can be done and then we can move forward on the basis of strong, democratic principles," he said.

    The CNRP called for a committee representing the two main political parties, the National Election committee, civil society organisations and the United nations to "be urgently established" to investigate the complaints.

    Voters 'intimidated'

    Analysts had expressed concern about the credibility of the electoral roll long before the polling day, with independent audits suggesting large numbers of dead voters as well as duplicate names.

    The committee has just to confirm that irregularities are so widespread that they have distorted the will of the Cambodian people

    Sam Rainsy, Opposition leader

    There have been claims also of intimidation with the well-funded ruling party controlling the police and military and making use of government vehicles to campaign.

    Rainsy, who only returned to Cambodia just over a week ago from a self-imposed exile, was barred from contesting the election and was not even able to vote.

    He spent nearly four years in exile in France after being found guilty on what he said were politically-motivated charges.

    Prime Minister, Hun Sen's, Cambodian People's Party (CPP) announced late on Sunday that it had taken an estimated 68 out of the 123 seats in the lower house.

    "We can say we've won this election," CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said.

    The CPP had 90 seats in the previous parliament, so if confirmed, the result would mark the loss of more than 20 seats.

    The CNRP has decried what it described as the kingdom's worst poll irregularities so far, including the missing of nearly 1.3 million voters from the electoral list, and thousands of people who turned up to find someone else had used their ballot.

    Irregularities denied

    Rights groups also expressed concern that the ink used to mark voters' thumbs to ensure they did not vote more than once, could be easily washed off.

    "It is very difficult to proclaim this a free and fair election," Kol Preap, the executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, told AFP on Sunday.

    The National Election Committee denied that any irregularities had occurred.

    Even before polls opened, the opposition had said a Hun Sen win would be "worthless" without the participation of its leader Rainsy.

    The French-educated former banker returned to Cambodia on July 19 after receiving a royal pardon for criminal convictions which he contends were politically motivated.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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