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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid