Cambodia’s parliament Thursday appointed a new election committee in a bid to clean-up polls routinely tainted by allegations of fraud and as part of an agreement between the ruling and opposition parties. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen signs his attendance for the National Assembly meeting in Phnom Penh on April 9, 2015. A year-long political stalemate followed polls in 2013 after the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party refused to join parliament alleging they had been cheated out of winning.
More than five months after the Cambodian People’s Party and the Cambodia National Rescue Party first announced a joint commitment to electoral reform following a September 16 meeting, specific measures have finally been agreed upon. The first official meeting yesterday of a bipartisan committee tasked with discussing election reforms agreed on “the organisation of voter registration and a voter list to guarantee and defend the voting rights of all people”, and that a law on political party finance be created, a joint statement says. While the two sides have agreed in principle on the need for a revamped voter list, details of how that could be practically implemented will only be decided after a yet-to-be-scheduled national workshop with relevant stakeholders, opposition spokesman and committee member Yim Sovann said last night.
The Cambodian government-controlled National Election Committee (NEC) has failed to address credible allegations of voter fraud and other irregularities or systematic unfairness in the election process. The NEC announced official election results on September 8, 2013. The NEC results give the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) 68 seats and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), led by Sam Rainsy, 55 seats. Earlier the ruling party-dominated Constitutional Council dismissed all meaningful complaints about the conduct of the July 28 election.
Negotiators for Cambodia’s ruling and opposition parties have agreed to establish a special team to jointly investigate allegations of election irregularities. The decision was made by a working group that met for two hours at the National Assembly on Tuesday. Son Chhay, a lawmaker for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which has rejected preliminary results by the National Election Committee, said if irregularities are found by the investigative team they will consider what action to take against the NEC. “We tried to find ways to have an investigating team that can find the truth and then that result can be useful for the Constitutional Council in judging, because our complaints to the National Election Committee seemed to be rejected and ignored.”
Cambodia’s highest court, the Constitutional Council, has begun a review of the contested results of last month’s general election, leaving open a small possibility that it will resolve the opposition’s claims of unfairness. The state National Election Committee on Saturday already rejected all 19 complaints filed by political parties against the results of the July 28 polls. The official results would give the ruling Cambodian People’s Party 68 seats in the National Assembly, and 55 to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Friday he would push to form a new government even if the opposition tries to block the process, suggesting that his party could force an end to a standoff over disputed election results. His Cambodian People’s Party and the country’s main opposition group are currently deadlocked with competing claims to victory in Sunday’s vote—an impasse that some political observers fear could last for months and delay the formation of a new parliament and government. But Mr. Hun Sen, already prime minister for 28 years, insisted that his party had enough lawmakers—after preliminary results show it won 68 out of 123 parliamentary seats—to form a new government. His comments contradict claims by some legal experts who say the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which won 55 seats in the initial count, could block a new parliament by declining to take its seats. “We only need 63 seats to form a government,” said Mr. Hun Sen, 60 years old, while visiting farmers in Kandal province, which surrounds the capital, Phnom Penh.
Cambodia: Prime Minister offers talks with opposition over election complaints, would support probe | The Washington Post
Cambodia’s long-serving prime minister said Wednesday that his party was willing to talk with the opposition to resolve complaints that last weekend’s general election was unfair. The gesture, from a leader not usually given to compromise, represents an acknowledgement that his opponents’ strong showing in the polls could threaten his grip on power. Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party has claimed that it won 68 parliamentary seats to the opposition’s 55 in Sunday’s election according to provisional official results. However, the opposition, which increased its number of seats from 29 in the last National Assembly, could boycott the opening of parliament, leaving the lawmaking body short of a quorum and stymieing the formation of a new government.
Cambodia: Government rejects election inquiry creating unrest amid fraud accusations | NY Daily News
Cambodia’s government rejected on Tuesday calls by the opposition for an international inquiry into allegations it used massive fraud to win re-election, and said it wanted parliament to approve a new cabinet quickly. The United States and European Union expressed concern about irregularities in Sunday’s election but both said an investigation should be conducted by Cambodian electoral authorities, failing to endorse the opposition’s call for an inquiry involving the United Nations. The government announced on Sunday that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen had won 68 seats in the 123-seat parliament, a sharp fall from its previous tally of 90. The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) nearly doubled its seat total to 55, in a major surprise and a setback for Hun Sen.
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.
Cambodia’s opposition leader on Monday rejected the results of a weekend election showing a win for the long-time ruling party, raising fears of post-poll instability and setting the stage for a new showdown with Prime Minister Hun Sen. The challenge by opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who returned from exile last week to campaign for his Cambodia National Rescue Party, comes despite his party’s relative success in Sunday’s polling, in which the opposition made its biggest gains in years. Provisional results from Sunday’s voting showed the opposition capturing 55 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly. Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party won 68 seats, or a majority of 55 percent.
Campaigning in Cambodia’s general election is nearing its close as the eight parties contesting the ballot make their final bids for votes ahead of Sunday’s poll. The real contest, though, is between two parties: the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party whose leader Sam Rainsy recently returned from four years of self-imposed exile. The day after his triumphant arrival in Phnom Penh last Friday, opposition leader Sam Rainsy began a whirlwind nationwide tour with party deputy Kem Sokha. Sam Rainsy is the best known and most popular opposition figure, and in a nation that values personality over policy, the opposition CNRP is banking that his presence will translate into gains at the ballot box. Meanwhile, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party of Prime Minister Hun Sen has been playing up the animosity that characterized the relationship between Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha in recent years to portray an opposition divided.
Cambodia: Exiled opposition leader returns home to spearhead election campaign against Hun Sen | Telegraph
“I have come home to rescue the country,” Rainsy told the crowd gathered at the Phnom Penh airport, after kneeling to kiss the ground. “I am happy to be here!” Rainsy told the crowd speaking through a microphone as the supporters chanted, “We want change!” The French-educated leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party has been in exile since 2009 to avoid serving 11 years in prison on charges many consider politically motivated. Rainsy, 64, received a royal pardon last week at the request of Hun Sen, his bitter rival whose ruling party is almost certain to maintain its ironclad grip on power in the July 28 general election.
Cambodia: Election council bars pardoned opposition leader from voting, running in Cambodia’s polls | Global Times
Sam Rainsy, recently-pardoned leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was ineligible to vote or run as a parliamentary candidate for the July 28 national polls, Tep Nytha, secretary general of the National Election Committee, said Thursday. “According to the law, Sam Rainsy can neither vote nor stand as a candidate for the upcoming polls because the voter lists and political party candidate lists have already been officially recognized by the National Election Committee,” he told reporters. Sam Rainsy’s name was deleted from the voter registry since November on the grounds that he was a convicted criminal with an 11-year prison sentence. On Friday last week, King Norodom Sihamoni granted the charismatic opposition leader a royal pardon, allowing him to return to Cambodia after nearly 4 years abroad in a self-imposed exile.
Cambodia’s exiled opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, has announced he will return to Phnom Penh this week, buoying his party just days before the country’s general election. Will his pardon bring about change? The news on July 12th that Sam Rainsy (title photo) had received a royal pardon for an 11-year sentence handed down in 2010 came as a relief to supporters of his Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the only credible challenger to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). It was welcomed too by donors and by the United Nations’ human rights envoy to Cambodia, Surya Subedi, whose 2012 report emphasized “the importance of a level playing field for all political parties to compete on an equal footing”, and who had called for a deal that would allow Rainsy to return and take part. “Today I applaud the [government] for having taken this important step towards reconciliation, which is in the interests of stronger and deeper democratization of Cambodia,” Subedi said, adding that he hoped the government would act “to allow Sam Rainsy to play a full part in the national politics of Cambodia”.
Cambodia’s opposition leader, who lives in self-imposed exile abroad, has vowed to return to the country, in a move his party hailed Sunday as a boost to its chances in elections this month. Sam Rainsy, seen as the main challenger to strongman Hun Sen, promised to travel to Cambodia “before the election day” on July 28 in a video posted on his Facebook page. “The presence of Sam Rainsy will encourage voters to believe in CNRP (Cambodia National Rescue Party),” said opposition spokesman Yim Sovann. Rainsy’s presence would “create a strong force that would make a change and bring a positive result for the country”, he said, adding that the opposition leader was working to set a date for his return.
Discussions inside the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) continued over the weekend on whether to withdraw from next month’s national election due to a series of disruptions on opposition rallies and the failure of the government to reform the country’s electoral process, a party spokesman said Sunday. CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that a boycott of the national election is still “an option” and that party leaders would announce their final decision on whether to participate in the July 28 vote at a press conference on Thursday. “We cannot make a decision now…. We have to decide what our M.P.s [members of Parliament] want because they [the CPP] disrupt our meetings and destroy our sign boards, so this contributes to a very unproductive environment for elections,” Mr. Sovann said, adding that a decision by the CNRP not to participate would lead to increased international scrutiny on the ruling CPP.