News / Asia

Cambodian Opposition Leader Returns to Tense Political Atmosphere

 Sam Rainsy talks to the media outside the airport gate before beginning his walk into Phnom Penh, Cambodia, August 16, 2013. (Robert Carmichael for VOA)
Sam Rainsy talks to the media outside the airport gate before beginning his walk into Phnom Penh, Cambodia, August 16, 2013. (Robert Carmichael for VOA)
TEXT SIZE - +
Robert Carmichael
— The leader of Cambodia’s opposition has returned to the country at a time when his party is disputing its loss in last month’s elections. Sam Rainsy arrived in Phnom Penh Friday after a brief visit to the United States, saying mass protests against the election results are a “last resort.”

Hundreds of people turned out Friday to greet Sam Rainsy as he returned to a country whose citizens remain fearful that post-election tensions will erupt in violence.

Both the opposition and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party insist they won a majority of seats in the 123-member parliament in the July 28 ballot.

In recent days the ruling party has ordered troops and armored vehicles to the capital, ostensibly to maintain order in the event of opposition protests.

That coincided with the breakdown of talks between the two sides on the composition of an independent investigation committee to examine allegations of widespread electoral fraud.

Sam Rainsy, president of the National Rescue Party, addresses his supporters at the CNRP office in Phnom Penh, August 16, 2013.Sam Rainsy, president of the National Rescue Party, addresses his supporters at the CNRP office in Phnom Penh, August 16, 2013.
x
Sam Rainsy, president of the National Rescue Party, addresses his supporters at the CNRP office in Phnom Penh, August 16, 2013.
Sam Rainsy, president of the National Rescue Party, addresses his supporters at the CNRP office in Phnom Penh, August 16, 2013.
Outside the airport, amid a scrum of media and opposition supporters, Rainsy, the leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, or CNRP, insisted an impartial investigation must go ahead.

“The whole world knows that CNRP won the election and the whole world will help CNRP to expose the truth - the truth is that CNRP won the election,” he said.

Opposition rejects commission's results

Preliminary results from the election commission indicate that the ruling Cambodian People's Party will have 68 of the 123 seats, versus 55 for Rainsy's party.

The opposition rejects the National Election Commission’s figures and claims it won an outright majority of 63 seats. It has yet to provide proof of that.

Although the ruling party initially said it supported an independent investigation into the vote, it has since cooled to the idea, dimming prospects for an inquiry.

However Rainsy said he was confident that Prime Minister Hun Sen would acquiesce.

“Definitely he will. Because nobody would recognize any government stemming from fake elections," he said.

The United States has called on political parties to negotiate their differences peacefully, rather than resorting to threats or civil unrest.

Fear of violence

On Friday, local media reported that a shipment of dozens of tanks and armored personnel carriers had arrived from Eastern Europe and were headed for Phnom Penh.

Defense Minister Tea Banh told the Cambodia Daily newspaper that the weapons “would not be used to plough the rice fields” but were to protect the country from anyone who tried to destroy it.

Critics of Prime Minister Hun Sen say a build-up of military muscle on the streets is intended to discourage people from protesting.

It seems to be working. Many Cambodians are worried about the possibility of violence in the coming days and weeks, and thousands of garment workers have headed back to their villages to avoid any trouble, dealing a blow to the country’s largest export industry.

Independent analyst Lao Mong Hay says that although there is little doubt the deployment is a message to the opposition, it was likely also aimed at critics of the prime minister within his own party.

“Judging from the various statements by different leaders of the ruling party, [these] have not been so consistent with one another. So apparently this reflects a lack of cohesion within the leadership of the party,” said Lao Mong Hay.

Meantime Sam Rainsy insists that the CNRP is not intimidated, and is prepared to hold peaceful demonstrations should the investigation into alleged electoral irregularities not go ahead.

Rainsy says he will spend the coming days travelling around Cambodia to meet his party’s supporters.


  • Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), visits a polling station during the general elections in Phnom Penh, July 28, 2013.
  • Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen shows his inked finger after casting his ballot in Takhmau town, south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 28, 2013. Hun Sen has been on the job for 28 years.
  • An election official shows a ballot paper in Phnom Penh, July 28, 2013.
  • Heng Samrin, president of Cambodia's National Assembly, casts his vote at the polling station number 0370 at Outdor primary school in Kampong Cham town, July 28, 2013. (Heng Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
  • Riot policemen protect a man accused of trying to hit a Buddhist monk, during protests against alleged election irregularities in Phnom Penh July 28, 2013.
  • A police vehicle burns following a brief clash at the end of election day in Phnom Penh July 28, 2013.
  • Princess Norodom Arunrasmy, president of the royalist FUNCIPEC Party, casts her vote a polling station at the Teaksin primary school in Kampong Cham town, northeast of Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh. (Heng Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
  • A scene at a polling station in Kampong Cham town, northeast of Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh. (Heng Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
  • Scene at a polling station in Prey Veng town, in Cambodia's eastern Prey Veng province, July 28, 2013. (Kong Sothanarith/VOA Khmer)

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gary Fultheim from: Long beach calif USA
August 16, 2013 6:11 PM
The Military is helpful to stop the violence.Long before the elections the Media from all over the world knew and predicted the results of a CPP win...So what really has changed??. Everyone knew a long time in advance before the election started the CPP Opposition has a history of crying and creating false statements. SR is a criminal and should be held responsible for any property damaged due to protests.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid