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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More