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Cambodian Opposition Wraps Up Election Protest Rally

Supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) attend a protest march along a street to the foreign embassies in central Phnom Penh, Oct. 25, 2013.
Cambodian opposition supporters have wrapped up three days of peaceful protests against the results of this year's parliamentary elections.

Led by opposition leader Sam Rainsy, an estimated 20,000 cheering demonstrators marched to several foreign embassies in Phnom Penh asking for international intervention in the Cambodian political standoff. A petition with nearly two million thumb prints was delivered to the missions of France, China, the U.S., Britain and other countries.

Although official results show the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party made substantial gains in the election, opposition lawmakers have refused to take their seats in parliament, claiming the ruling Cambodian People's Party committed voter fraud.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy told VOA the opposition is committed to a full and fair inquiry into the election results.

"What we really want is truth. We want everybody to recognize the truth; even the Cambodian People's Party must accept this fact. Therefore, we only want an independent investigation," he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose rule was extended by the vote, says the election was free and fair, arguing the results were upheld by Cambodia's National Election Commission and Constitutional Court.

The ruling party has rejected the idea of an international inquiry, but government spokesman Phay Siphan said officials did not try to prevent the opposition from taking the petition to foreign embassies.

"In terms of pressure on foreign embassies, we, the government, has encouraged foreign embassies here to accept the opposition petitions and they can do whatever they think is right," he said.

The U.S. and other Western countries have called on all sides to engage in peaceful dialogue, but have not publicly taken sides in the election dispute.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.