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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid