Cambodia: Parties Agree to End Year-Long Deadlock | Radio Free Asia

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy forged a landmark agreement Tuesday that will see the opposition end a one-year boycott of parliament and the ruling party adopt key reforms to the country’s electoral body. The agreement broke a year-long political impasse following disputed July 2013 general elections in which Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) was declared the victor by the government-appointed National Election Committee (NEC) despite allegations of widespread irregularities. The pact was announced in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh after a five-hour meeting between the CPP and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) led by Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy. The agreement led to the immediate release of seven CNRP lawmakers and another opposition politician from jail following their arrest last week on charges of waging an “insurrection” which could see them being imprisoned for up to 30 years if convicted.  … In a key compromise that led to the end of the CNRP boycott of parliament, the CPP and CNRP agreed Tuesday that each party could appoint four members to the NEC, with the ninth member to be jointly picked.

Cambodia: Talks held after election protest clashes | BBC

Cambodia’s political rivals have held talks, a day after protests in Phnom Penh over contested election results left one person dead. Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power for 28 years, met opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Monday. They issued a joint statement promising more talks, election commission reform and a non-violent end to the dispute. The opposition has accused the ruling party of widespread fraud in July’s general election. According to results from the National Election Commission, Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won 68 seats to the CNRP’s 55 seats – a greatly reduced majority. The opposition says the vote was rigged and wants an independent inquiry. It also says it will boycott the opening of parliament on 23 September. Despite the joint statement, the central issues of the disputed election and the opposition’s threat to boycott parliament remain unresolved, says the BBC’s Jonah Fisher in neighbouring Bangkok.

Editorials: Independent Cambodian Election Inquiry Needed | Thomsen-Reuters

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.

Cambodia: Election Committee Confirms Ruling Party's Narrow Win | RTT

Cambodia’s National Election Commission (NEC) on Monday confirmed that the ruling party has narrowly won the general election. Announcing the preliminary official results, The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)-controlled National Election Commission (NEC) said that the CPP won 3.2 million votes against the Opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), which secured 2.9 million votes. The final allocation of seats in the 123-member lower house of parliament has not been announced, but CPP claims it has secured at least 68 seats. Sunday’s was the worst result for the ruling party in 15 years, which is an indication of the dwindling popularity of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power for nearly three decades, reports said.

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: Opposition Rejects Election Results | New York Times

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: Election challenge raises fears | Associated Press

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.

Cambodia: Opposition points to voter fraud | eNCA

Cambodia’s opposition leader on Saturday denounced signs of voter fraud on the eve of elections and labelled Prime Minister Hun Sen a “coward” for not allowing him to participate. Sam Rainsy said his party had uncovered irregularities such as tens of thousands of duplicated voter names that would allow some people to cast ballots twice in Sunday’s polls. He also alleged that the ink used for voting could be washed off. “We are going backward in terms of election fairness,” Rainsy told reporters. “More people will vote for us,” he said. “But I suspect the ruling party, knowing this, will cheat more, will cheat like mad.” Local and international rights groups have also voiced concerns about reports of irregularities.

Cambodia: Cambodia Election Campaign Draws to Close | VoA NEws

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: Opposition leader to return for Cambodia poll | Deutsche Welle

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: Self-exiled opposition head vows poll return | Fox News

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.