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Cambodian opposition protests poll results

August 14, 2013

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia’s main opposition party filed formal complaints Wednesday over the results of last month’s general election, challenging the victory of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and alleging widespread irregularities.

The complaints should delay ratification of the results by the National Election Committee until sometime before Sept. 8.

A delay could help avoid a confrontation that could lead to violence. The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has threatened a massive street demonstration unless an independent body investigates the alleged irregularities. The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has led the country with an iron hand for 28 years, has deployed troops and armored vehicles in the capital in case there is disorder.

The government and the opposition have both said they will hold the other responsible if any violence breaks out.

Senior opposition member Kuoy Bunroeun said the complaints cover 15 provinces and the overall vote. The opposition says improper registration lists may have denied more than 1 million people their right to vote.

The province-by-province vote count released by the election committee for the July 28 balloting supports the ruling party’s claim to have won 68 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly, against the opposition’s 55. The opposition claims to have won 63 seats.

The election committee said the total popular vote was 3,235,969 for the ruling CPP and 2,946,176 for the CNRP, with six other parties failing to accrue enough votes to win any assembly seats.

An independent committee to scrutinize the election process has been approved in principle by the election committee and the two parties, but operational details have not been worked out.

The opposition has not committed to holding street protests, but warns they are an option. Its leader, Sam Rainsy, went to the United states last week to attend his daughter’s wedding and is expected to return by the end of this week.

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