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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.