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US Calls for 'Transparent Review' of Cambodia Election

  • VOA News

FILE - An election official shows a ballot paper in Phnom Penh, July 28, 2013.

FILE - An election official shows a ballot paper in Phnom Penh, July 28, 2013.

The United States is expressing fresh concerns about the outcome of Cambodia's recent election that handed a victory to the ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday a "transparent review" of reported irregularities in the July election would help address "flaws" in Cambodia's electoral process. She also said it would give Cambodians "greater confidence in their electoral system."

Cambodia's opposition plans to boycott the opening session of parliament and hold three days of protests next week unless there is an investigation into allegations of widespread fraud in the vote.

On Sunday, the opposition's attempts at appealing the outcome were dealt a blow when the National Election Committee officially ratified the victory of Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party.

The election committee said Hun Sen's CPP took 68 seats. It said the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party won 55 seats, significantly more seats than it has won in the past.

The opposition, led by CNRP President Sam Rainsy, said it would have won more seats if the election had been fair. It says it has received more than 10,000 complaints of irregularities from its supporters.

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday slammed the election committee's decision, saying it "doused even the slimmest hope that thousands of electoral irregularities would be investigated in a serious and impartial manner."

The New York-based group says the CPP "controlled every aspect of the electoral process and deprived the people of Cambodia of a free and fair election."

It specifically mentioned unequal media access, manipulation of voter rolls, and campaigning by senior security force officers for the CPP as among the alleged election irregularities.

The government has acknowledged some minor problems with the vote, but says they were not enough to impact the outcome.

On Saturday, nearly 20,000 opposition supporters demonstrated in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. Some analysts have warned of possible political violence, if government forces respond harshly to the protests.