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)
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

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs