Opposition leader Sam Rainsy yesterday took a broad swipe at multiple aspects of the election system and the government, urging the international community not to recognise the results of upcoming ballots unless he was allowed to participate.
Via video link from Paris, where the leader of the eponymous party lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a spate of criminal convictions, Sam Rainsy labelled Prime Minister Hun Sen a “coward” for avoiding a fair fight with the opposition.
“He is afraid of Sam Rainsy only, but only Sam Rainsy is able to overcome him. Thus, the election shows that Hun Sen is a coward,” he said at a press conference.
Sam Rainsy also foreshadowed an imminent return to his home country.
“Wait and see how many weeks, how many months [before] we will see the result we are pushing,” he said.
The SRP has consistently pushed the line that the Cambodian People’s Party will eventually bow to international pressure and negotiate a settlement for Sam Rainsy to return in order to legitimise electoral results.
Cambodia’s commune elections are scheduled for June 3, while the public will vote on the National Assembly next year.
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap yesterday countered that Sam Rainsy was a demagogue with nothing new to say.
“The general election and non-general election are still made without Sam Rainsy and in the absence of Sam Rainsy, Cambodia is still successful in going ahead under the CPP leadership,” Cheam Yeap said.
In a handout yesterday, the SRP also pointed to findings by election monitor COMFREL that about 400,000 more voters had been registered by the National Election Committee for upcoming commune elections than the body had estimated were eligible.
COMFREL’s own surveys suggested that 94 per cent of eligible voters had actually been registered, while 17.2 per cent, or about 1.5 million registered voters, had not been recorded on the voter list.
The NEC responded to COMFREL findings in a statement released yesterday, categorically rejecting the audit, which it alleged was based on an unofficial list from December 31.