News / Asia

Ruling Party Wins Narrowly in Cambodian Vote

Heng Samrin, president of Cambodia's National Assembly casts his vote in Kampong Cham, July 28, 2013. (Heng Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
Heng Samrin, president of Cambodia's National Assembly casts his vote in Kampong Cham, July 28, 2013. (Heng Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
The Cambodian government has claimed victory in Sunday's national election, indicating that longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen will extend his 28-year rule despite a strong challenge from a rejuvenated opposition.

A government spokesman said Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won 68 seats in the nation's 123-member parliament, a significant decline from the 90-seat majority it previously held.

Spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the main opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) took the remaining 55 seats, almost doubling the 29 seats it held in the outgoing parliament.

There was no immediate confirmation from the National Election Committee, which began releasing vote tallies by district on state television late Sunday. Final election results are expected in several weeks.

An independent observer told VOA the vote was the least fair of the elections that Cambodia has held in recent years.

Cambodian Election workers check the voter rolls at a polling station in Kampong Cham, northeast of Phnom Penh, July 28, 2013. (Heng Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)Cambodian Election workers check the voter rolls at a polling station in Kampong Cham, northeast of Phnom Penh, July 28, 2013. (Heng Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
x
Cambodian Election workers check the voter rolls at a polling station in Kampong Cham, northeast of Phnom Penh, July 28, 2013. (Heng Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
Cambodian Election workers check the voter rolls at a polling station in Kampong Cham, northeast of Phnom Penh, July 28, 2013. (Heng Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
Speaking by phone from Phnom Penh, Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia director Koul Panha cited several problems, including names of eligible voters not appearing on voter lists, the ruling party dominating media coverage and using state resources to promote itself, security personnel engaging in pro-government activities, and the main opposition party's leader being barred from running as a candidate.

Koul Panha said Sunday's vote produced an estimated turnout of 69 percent, about 6 percent lower than the 2008 election. He said the main reason for the reduced turnout appears to be voters being barred from casting ballots because their names were removed from the voter lists.

That seemed to be the case for Sun Kosal, one of several angry Phnom Penh residents who were turned away at the Maha Montrei Pagoda polling station.

She told VOA that her name and those of her family members were on the voter list for the previous election. "Now when we go to vote this year, we lost the names," she said.

Koul Panha said hundreds of thousands of people faced similar problems in 2008, but that it would take several weeks for his group to determine the extent of the problem this time.

A Cambodian voter displays an ink stained finger after casting his ballot, July 28, 2013. (VOA / Heng Reaksmey)A Cambodian voter displays an ink stained finger after casting his ballot, July 28, 2013. (VOA / Heng Reaksmey)
x
A Cambodian voter displays an ink stained finger after casting his ballot, July 28, 2013. (VOA / Heng Reaksmey)
A Cambodian voter displays an ink stained finger after casting his ballot, July 28, 2013. (VOA / Heng Reaksmey)
Ahead of the election, Koul Panha also had warned of a flaw with the ink used to mark a voter's finger, saying it could be washed off within minutes using a substance widely available in local markets. He said that raised the risk of people voting more than once.

CNRP leader Sam Rainsy told a news conference his opposition party is waiting for the official results and information from other sources before making an assessment of the election. He urged his supporters to remain calm.

Sunday's vote was largely peaceful. Cambodian police blocked the streets around Prime Minister Hun Sen's residence as a precaution.

Earlier, Sam Rainsy told VOA it was too early to know what the opposition would do if it determines the election's shortcomings are egregious. "We will have to assess the scale of the cheating, the ballot tampering," he said.

The government barred Sam Rainsy from standing or voting in the election, despite enabling him to return to Cambodia from self-imposed exile days beforehand. Officials said Sam Rainsy's registration for the election came too late.

Sam Rainsy had been in exile for four years, avoiding a trial in which he was sentenced to prison on criminal charges that he said were politically motivated. Hun Sen said he arranged for a royal pardon of Sam Rainsy, a longtime political rival, to promote national reconciliation.

The opposition leader campaigned freely in the run-up to the vote and drew large crowds of supporters, suggesting his return had given a boost to the opposition. His party was formed by a recent merger of opposition factions.

Koul Panha welcomed the increased participation of young people in the election campaign, particularly through social media websites such as Facebook.

A Cambodian media consultant and blogger said that participation was a boon to parties looking to engage with younger voters. "When they have Facebook, their relationship with their supporters becomes interactive," Keo Kounila told VOA before the election. "Party supporters have the opportunity to give feedback on party policies. And I think any party benefits from such feedback."

Hun Sen remains a popular figure in Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia's fastest growing economies. He campaigned on a decades-long record of leading the peaceful development of his nation, after decades of turmoil that included the brutal 1975 to 1979 dictatorship of the communist Khmer Rouge.

Sunday's election was Cambodia's fifth since 1993, when the United Nations helped the country stage its first multiparty democratic vote. 

Robert Carmichael and VOA's Khmer service contributed to this report from Phnom Penh.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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

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: Heng from: Cambodia
July 29, 2013 11:11 PM
The result of Election In Cambodia is not fair and had many widespread fraud happened before voting, during voting, and after voting.


by: Try from: Phnom Penh
July 29, 2013 8:21 AM
The election was unfair especially the result. There were problems during the election: Vietnamese could go to vote, several thousands of Cambodians lost their voting rights, repeated names, removable ink...
The result is not acceptable.


by: Chhuon Ly from: Tacoma
July 28, 2013 11:00 PM
Win or lose, it is really encouraging to see that all Cambodian people, young and old, are actively involved in the election. The light switches are turned on. The people are more informed. WATCH OUT Hun Sen!


by: Dano from: usa
July 28, 2013 6:00 PM
This election is the fraud,power abuses,corruption among the government institutes.It is acceptable to all the cambodian people !!!


by: Khemra from: usa
July 28, 2013 5:53 PM
This election is undemocratic ,it is organized in the dictatorship shadow !!!!

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