Cambodia faces a volatile and possibly prolonged political standoff after leaders of the opposition said on Monday that they rejected the preliminary results of Sunday’s election and accused the authoritarian government of Prime Minister Hun Sen of large-scale cheating to achieve a relatively narrow victory. With a number of monitoring organizations describing widespread voting irregularities, Sam Rainsy, the leader of the newly energized opposition, said at a news conference that the party would seek help from foreign and Cambodian election experts to decide whether to call for a recount or new elections. “We will not accept the result — we cannot accept the result,” he said. “The party in power cannot ignore us anymore.” Mr. Sam Rainsy had initially announced a victory after the polls closed on Sunday but retracted his claim.
Mr. Hun Sen’s party, the Cambodian People’s Party, issued a statement late Sunday saying that preliminary results “clearly showed” that it had “won a victory,” and that the party had sufficient numbers to establish a new government.
But the results were the poorest showing for the governing party since 1998. The Cambodian People’s Party won 55 percent of the 123 seats in the National Assembly, according to the party’s Web site — a relatively narrow victory, and down from 73 percent of the seats in the last election, in 2008. Analysts said voter turnout was about 70 percent.
Mr. Hun Sen, 60, has been in power for 28 years, and the election on Sunday was one of the most closely contested of his career.
Kem Sokha, the vice president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, said an opposition victory was still possible.
“We have a chance to win,” Mr. Kem Sokha said. “It’s never been this close in our history.”
He appeared to issue a veiled threat to the government, saying he feared that “Cambodian people who don’t like the result will rise up and make chaos.”
Full Article: Cambodian Opposition Rejects Election Results – NYTimes.com.