A Change of Guard

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Wednesday 31 July 2013

Cambodia opposition threatens mass protest over polls

Sam Rainsy paying tribute on Tuesday to death of people killed in grenade attack in front of National Assembly in 1997

PHNOM PENH (AFP) -- Cambodia's opposition leader has threatened to call a nationwide protest against the hotly disputed election victory of Hun Sen's ruling party, unless the result of last weekend's poll is reversed.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) has rejected the results of the closely fought poll that returned the ruling party to power, alleging it was robbed of victory by widespread voting irregularities.

"The results are not true," Sam Rainsy told supporters in a video posted online late Monday.

"In fact, the CNRP has won the election... Everybody knows this, even the CPP knows that the CNRP is the winner," Rainsy said.

"If they do not accept our victory, we will hold nationwide demonstration," he added, urging CNRP supporters to spread the protest threat across social media.

The CNRP has already called for a UN-backed probe into allegations that 1.25 million legitimate voters were culled from the electoral roll, while more than one million "ghost names" and a further 200,000 duplicated names were added to the list.

The ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) of strongman prime minister Hun Sen on Sunday said it had secured an estimated 68 of the 123 lower house seats available, shading the CNRP which won 55.

It was the ruling party's worst election result since 1998, but the CNRP's leader, Sam Rainsy, insisted fair polls would have seen it ousted from power.
Invigorated by Rainsy's recent return from exile, the newly united opposition made significant gains in Sunday's polls, which independent monitors also criticised as flawed.

Decrying the "fake results" Rainsy said the party will soon release their own tally.

The party held 90 seats in the previous parliament and -- if confirmed -- the result would mark the loss of 22 seats, despite the exclusion of Rainsy who was barred from standing.

Rainsy, a French-educated former banker, returned to Cambodia on July 19 from self-imposed exile after receiving a surprise royal pardon for criminal convictions which he contends were politically motivated.

But he was barred from running as a candidate after authorities said it was too late to add his name to the electoral register.

Hun Sen -- a former Khmer Rouge cadre who defected from the murderous regime -- has vowed to rule until he is 74.

He oversaw Cambodia's transformation from a nation devastated by the "Killing Fields" genocidal era in the late 1970s to become one of Southeast Asia's most vibrant economies.

The 60-year-old premier -- who has been in power for 28 years -- is regularly accused of ignoring human rights and muzzling political freedoms.
- See more at: http://www.thecambodiaherald.com/cambodia/detail/1?page=11&token=MDBkZDA3NmFkNWZ#sthash.FW83wCq9.dpuf

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