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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid