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Post election shakeout

T he ruling Cambodian People’s Party has announced plans to renew its coalition government with the further-fragmenting Funcinpec party, inviting its secretary general, Nhiek Bun Chhay, and his constituents into government but excluding the royalist faction led by party president Keo Puth Rasmey.

The partnership proposal came Wednesday as the Kingdom's opposition parties continued to reject the election results, saying that the vote was "rigged" to favour the CPP by eliminating as many as one million names from voter registration lists. “About one million people who wanted to vote lost their rights because of ‘organised confusion’ before election day,†opposition leader Sam Rainsy said at his party headquarters on Wednesday, where hundreds had assembled to protest the poll results.

Many of those present lacked the tell-tale ink marks on their fingers signifying that they had voted. Pin Sophal, 38, told Post reporters that his name had been removed from the lists in Kien Svay district of Kandal province because of his supposed support for opposition parties.

“My name was removed from the voter lists because [the authorities] found that I don’t support the ruling party. My neighbour knew I once voted SRP, and he told the commune authorities,†he said. Suon Buntoeun, 48, who also attended the rally, said he had voted in previous parliamentary elections, but his name was missing when he went to vote at the Kilometre 6 polling station in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo commune on Sunday. “I voted in 1993, 1998 and 2003, but now I have no name,†he said.

“I received an [NEC] information notice and I had my ID card but I went to the polls and my name wasn’t there. These results are not acceptable.†Preliminary results show the CPP making large gains to capture around 90 National Assembly seats, with the Sam Rainsy Party trailing in second with an estimated 27 seats. The first preliminary results from the National Election Committee are not expected until August 9.

“I do not expect these people would have voted for me, but the National Election Committee (NEC) has to respect the constitution,†Sam Rainsy said of those whose names were omitted from voter rolls. The SRP, Human Rights Party, Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party issued a joint statement Monday rejecting the election, which they described as a “sham†and a “façade of democracy†due to the alleged manipulation of voter lists.

Minister of Information and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the CPP had also eyed the Human Rights Party led by Kem Sokha as a coalition partner but decided against it due to the party’s ties with the SRP. He also said the Keo Puth Rasmey, who led the Funcinpec drive against the election results, would be relieved of his position as deputy prime minister. Despite the announcement, Keo Puth Rasmey insisted to the Post Wednesday that Funcinpec could not be divided and that the party’s congress must decide whether to enter the coalition. Serey Kosal, deputy secretary general of Funcinpec, told the Post Wednesday he was unaware of the specific terms of the deal but said Funcinpec’s permanent committee would meet Thursday to discuss it.

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