PHNOM PENH: Cambodia’s election committee handed victory in hotly disputed polls to the ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday, prompting the opposition to say it will boycott parliament and stage further protests over allegations of widespread fraud.
The kingdom has been stuck in a political impasse since the July election, with the premier’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) insisting it secured a legitimate victory despite vociferous calls from CNRP leader Sam Rainsy for a probe into alleged vote rigging.
The CPP took 68 seats to 55 for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), according to the country’s National Election Committee. The election authority said the CPP won 3.2 million votes to the CNRP’s 2.9 million.
It is the ruling party’s worst election result since 1998, losing 22 seats since the last polls five years ago. Analysts say it delivers a significant blow to the CPP and Hun Sen, who has led the country for nearly three decades.
A rare mass rally in the capital on Saturday called for an independent probe into results but the NEC’s announcement ends the legal avenues open to the opposition to contest the poll. Rainsy, a French-educated former banker, on Sunday moved quickly to reject the NEC’s tally, insisting the loss would not blunt his party’s efforts to overturn the poll.
“We do not accept results that do not reflect the real will of the people. These are the results of voter fraud,” he said.
The CNRP will not join the first meeting of parliament and has no interest in talks with the CPP without an independent investigation first, he told reporters, adding the party planned to hold at least three days of demonstrations from next Sunday.
The CPP hailed the final results as an end to the political crisis that has gripped the country, saying it will convene parliament with royal assent irrespective of the CNRP’s next moves. AFP