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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Official NEC results confirm CPP triumph

Official NEC results confirm CPP triumph

Official election results announced by the National Election Committee (NEC) on August

30 confirmed a sweeping victory for the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and mirrored

the preliminary figures released by the NEC in late July.

However, both the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) and Funcinpec party, joined together as

the Alliance of Democrats, have dismissed the results as fraudulent.

The NEC results showed that the CPP won 73 seats, Funcinpec 26, and SRP 24. Both

the CPP and SRP gained nine seats in the National Assembly compared to the previous

election results in 1998. Funcinpec lost 17 seats in a continuing trend after their

crushing defeat in the 2002 commune elections.

One new seat was added in Oddar Meanchey.

No party captured the two-thirds majority needed to lead the government without a

coalition, but the CPP fell only nine seats short of the mark. The SRP emerged as

a future political threat to the ruling party by significantly boosting its presence

in the Assembly and drawing much of its support from expanding urban areas.

Local and international observers noted improvements in the recent electoral process

over previous polls, but cautioned that irregularities persisted. Nevertheless, the

European Union and some other international delegations gave the results a qualified

stamp of approval.

However, the US State Department disputed the results. While noting "more open

political debate" and "better media coverage", it said the election

fell below international standards in an August 31 statement. The US condemned the

political violence and failure of the NEC to solve complaints or punish offenders.

Government officials have praised the NEC's performance during the relatively peaceful

electoral period. Tep Nitha, secretary general of the NEC, was satisfied with his

organization's performance because it received positive marks from both local and

international organizations. However, he admitted there was room for improvement.

"We are not a hundred percent good," Nitha said. "We still need improvement

toward the next election."

He said the NEC would conduct an assessment of their work in October to identify

major problems before the next election in 2008.

Koul Panha, executive director of the election monitoring organization COMFREL, criticized

both the NEC and the Constitutional Council, the highest body overseeing constitutional

and electoral disputes, for their lack of transparency in solving complaints.

But he said it was difficult to blame the NEC for all the election's failings. He

added it was even harder to decide if the election was acceptable or not.

"It depends on the standard we use to evaluate it," said Panha. "This

kind of result would be kicked out in a western country. It does not meet international

standards at all."

He also noticed another worrying trend in the recent election. Only 83 percent of

registered voters cast their ballot on election day. That is 10 percent fewer than

the 93 percent who turned out for the vote in 1998.



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