Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Live blog: Commune elections 2017


7:01AM, Tuesday, June 6th, 2017
Post staff
With a tenfold increase in communes won, CNRP readies for 2018

Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha have never shied away from incredible claims about their opposition party's popularity. If a genuine election were ever held, they have said repeatedly over the past few years, they would decimate the ruling Cambodian People's Party.

Sokha even predicted a doubling of the opposition's vote at Sunday's commune elections — the first under the new elections body it helped create — to 60 percent from 30 percent in 2012, while Rainsy late last year issued his own very specific forecast for Sunday.

Read our full story here.

Popular vote may be closer than commune count suggests

Despite winning approximately 30 percent of commune seats up for grabs, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party is projected to take about 45 percent of yesterday's popular vote, to the Cambodian People's Party's 48 percent, according to preliminary results announced today by election monitoring group the Situation Room.

The group, which is made up of watchdogs and human rights organisations, said that while the projection is based only on a sampling of votes, they expected it to be "95% accurate". It also noted in a statement yesterday that it hadn't found any major issues in the voting process.

Read our full story here.

CPP wins 70% of communes

The Cambodian People's Party won 70 percent of the country's 1,646 commune councils at yesterday's elections, according to unofficial results published by a government-aligned media outlet — a marked drop from the 97 percent it won in 2012 but one far smaller than the opposition had been hoping to inflict.

The results, published by Fresh News, said the CPP won 1,163 communes to the Cambodian National Rescue Party's 482 but did not indicate the breakdown of the popular vote. National Election Committee spokesman Hang Puthea said he could not confirm the results.

Read our full story here.

Fresh News releases unverified figures showing 1,163 CPP wins

The Cambodian People's Party has won 1,163 communes to the Cambodia National Rescue Party's 482, according to government-aligned media outlet Fresh News.

It is unclear if the results posted by Fresh News are from official NEC sources, but they were released as the NEC is announcing commune-by-commune results on television.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea declined to comment on the Fresh News results, which also give one commune to Nhek Bun Chhay's Khmer National United Party. The results differed slightly from the opposition's own preliminary count, which asserted that they had won 'around 500' communes, according to a spokesman.

Results: pending

Votes are currently being announced commune by commune on national television. More information to follow when we have it.

CNRP's youngest candidate claims he has won

Chen Sokngeng, who at 26 years old is the opposition's youngest candidate, says he has won against three-time incumbent Sam Lan in Siem Reap's Sala Kamreuk commune.

"We won in all stations, just two stations that we still wait to see the official result. I would like to thank the people of Sala Kamreuk for putting their trust in me. I will serve them according to the party policies," he said.

Backstory here.

Sreng Sokhoeun claims she has won

The wife of Seang Chet, a once-jailed former CNRP official, is claiming victory in Kampong Cham's Srak commune. Backstory here.

CNRP's Sin Chan Pov Rozet claims victory in O'Char

CNRP candidate Sin Chan Pov Rozet is claiming victory in Battambang's O'Char commune. "Thank you to grandmothers and grandfathers, uncles and aunties, brothers and sisters who trust me and provided me with an opportunity to lead in O'Char. I will work even harder from now on," she wrote on Facebook. Backstory here.

Strong showing at polls

Turnout for Cambodia's commune elections was 86%, the National Election Committee has announced.

Activists arrested for planning "dirty trick"

Two opposition activists were arrested this morning in Tbong Khmum province after they rode motorbikes with Vietnamese licence plates to a polling station.

Chan Moul Commune Police Chief Khuong Chhordarith confirmed Muon Tabeam, 30, and Roeun Rach, 25, were arrested at 8am.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, in a post on his Facebook page, said the pair were planning a "dirty trick" by staging a photograph, with the alleged involvement of another activist, aiming to suggest foreigners had cast ballots in the election.

Read more.

Soldiers trucked in to vote in "remote" Siem Reap commune

Several hundred soldiers have travelled from Cambodia's northern border in Preah Vihear province to vote today in Siem Reap's remote Ta Siem commune, a tight electoral battleground in Svay Leu district previously held by the opposition, according to members of the unit speaking from the area this morning.

As voters began casting their ballots to elect commune representatives at about 7:30am, a soldier who identified himself as 'Sovanara' in Intervention Brigade 9, which is based in Preah Vihear's Choam Ksan district, told the Post about 800 troops had arrived in Ta Siem in recent days.

Read more.

The long wait

In Kok Chak commune in Siem Reap, tuk tuk driver and CNRP supporter Thum Sothy, 41, is almost jumping out of his skin with excitement as he waits for the result.

"I came here because I wanted to see the real result. It's different when you see it, than when you hear people talk about it," he said.

Voters weigh in as they wait for results

At the Wat Ampel Sa'a polling station in Takeo's Leay Bor commune, counting is underway.

Waiting for his wife who is a poll worker to finish up, 32-year-old Sam Ork loiters in the pagoda grounds with his kids.

"I voted this morning" he said, adding that after weighing up what he thought was best for the nation he cast his vote for the CNRP. Nepotism, wealth inequality and corruption motivated his vote, he said.

"A small road that they [CPP incumbent] rebuilt they spent $10,000 from the commune but the result was very little, and just one year after the rain came and the road is gone" he explained.

Nonetheless, his prediction was that the CPP would carry the commune — even the killing of Leay Bor-native Kem Ley made no difference.

"Most of the people here are old — they are afraid to talk, they don't want change."

Polls begin to close and counting begins

Polls have just closed at the Wat Ampel Sa'a polling center in Takeo's Laybo commune - where there are 5 polling stations. Of 1,291 voters registered here, only 57 didn't show up to vote for one of 5 parties on the ballot, a turnout rate of 95.6%. NEC officials on site said it's comparable to past elections.

"Some of those who didn't vote are dead," one remarked.

Voters pay their respects at Kem Ley grave

Kem Chanthol, 68 speaking by the grave of her cousin — slain political analyst Kem Ley — said that today several dozen people have come to pay their respects after voting.

"Normally it's maybe just five to ten people per day" she said. "I think people going to their hometowns to vote are just taking the opportunity to visit."

No prizes for guessing who these votes went to

Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany cast their ballots at 7am this morning at a polling station in Takhmao, Kandal province. Image: Heng Chivoan

Kem Sokha at Chak Angre Leu polling station in Phnom Penh at 10:20am this morning. Image: Sreng Meng Srun

14:55PM, Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Twitter chatter

Commentary from the social network over the day so far.

13:42PM, Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon
'To vote is to contribute to the building of the nation'

First time voter Sam Lan, 19, drove two hours from his home in Samrong district, Trea Commune to visit Kem Ley's home and grave in Takeo Province's Leay Bor commune. He came with his nephew Hav, 16.

"To vote is to contribute to the building of the nation," he said, adding "my biggest concern is corruption".

13:31PMPM, Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Nepotism, corruption, deforestation: Key issues in Kampong Cham

Even some of Hun Sen's most loyal supporters want change at the local level.

Eating lunch near a pagoda in Srok commune, which in the last mandate elected a Sam Rainsy commune chief, these men said they supported the prime minister but were disappointed in the wealth of the parties lower officials compared to the poverty of others in the country.

They cited nepotism, corruption, deforestation and the destruction of fisheries as reasons for why the CPP had lost sway here in Kampong Cham.

12:55PM, Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Martin de Bourmont
Transparency and justice

Mom Choeun, the CNRP's second Candidate in Svay Antor commune in Prey Vang, said: "We need transparency and justice in society; it depends on the leaders who will win the election."

12:50PM, Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Andrew Nachemson
Elections off to a smooth start

Transparency International Cambodia deployed 1,051 non-partisan observers to a "representative sample" of 411 polling stations in all 25 provinces for today's commune elections. Observers are also present at every polling station in Phnom Penh.

"As of 10am, nearly all observed polling stations opened on time, with all necessary and critical materials — thus TI Cambodia reports that the integrity of the set-up and opening processes has been maintained thus far," the statement reads.

Read more.

10:44AM, Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Post staff
Voter excitement

"I have voted in every election. I want peace, I want development and improvement in the country," said 81-year-old Hy Kai in Kampong Cham.

Tep Ouddom, 23, voted in Phnom Penh's Chak Angre Leu for for the first time. He said he voted to make his commune better, and hesitantly added that he voted for the CNRP.

Keo Sitha, a 65-year-old doctor in Kandal province, said: "Voting is very important so we can choose a good leader."

"I believe there is no war because Khmers need to love each other to build this nation. I want my leader not only in this commune election but in the national election to help the poor people, not to abuse them or exploit them."

"I want them to develop our health care sector because when people are sick they cannot go to work."

An early morning voter in Chak Andre Leu said she had already cleaned the ink from her finger.

10:30AM, Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Kong Meta
The desire to vote

Tith Phan, an official for the CEC in Kandal's Takmoa commune, said he saw people coming to vote even though they are seriously sick and needed people to carry them.

"I even helped to carry them. They really care about and love the country. It makes me very excited to see," he added.

"I will make sure to provide fairness to them, and make a neat process for them. There are 647 people in my voting poll."

10:19AM, Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Ananth Baliga
Kem Sokha ready to vote, hopes for 60% for CNRP

CNRP president Kem Sokha arrives at Chak Angre Leu polling station in outer Phnom Penh to cast his vote, a few hours after Prime Minister Hun Sen cast his in Takhmao City.

"I am feeling energized with all the support I have," he said.

"We have a vision and a goal. And we have hope but it all depends on the people. I expect to win over 60 percent."

9:20AM, Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Touch Sokha
Voting: A how-to guide

Step 1: Check voter list.

Step 2: Queue at polling station.

Step 3: Put your marked paper in the ballot box. Here in Tram Kok commune the race is for an open seat, as incumbent CPP commune chief Som Pov has retired after three terms.

Step 4: Confirm your identity with indelible ink.

Optional step 5: Selfie with your inky finger.

9AM, Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Erin Handley
First-time voters in Kampong Cham show off their ink

"I am very happy to vote. This is my first time, said Sam Virak (left), 21.

Hong Sreynich (right), 19, is training to be a midwife and says her key concerns are policing and theft.

"When the leader is good, the country will develop," she said.

"Many young people understand politics and want to fulfil their obligation. Only a small number are lazy and they don't want to vote."

9AM, Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Alex Willemyns
Hun Sen votes in Takhmao City

6:45PM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Ananth Baliga
CNRP rally continues into the night

The CNRP rally continues up Monivong Boulevard, with leader Kem Sokha still waving atop a truck. It will now cut across to Olympic Stadium before ending on Hun Sen Boulevard.

Tens of thousands of people took part in the show of support for the opposition in the capital today, following a large rally for the ruling CPP this morning.

4:15 PM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Jenni Reid
Kem Sokha hits the road

Opposition leader Kem Sokha waves to CNRP supporters as his truck travels through Phnom Penh.

4:02PM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon
Easy riders

A CNRP supporter tries to ease congestion amid party rallies in Phnom Penh.

3:02PM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Jenni Reid
Monks get political

A tuk tuk carries a group of monks through a CNRP rally as they hold up a picture of party leader Kem Sokha and his predecessor Sam Rainsy, who spoke to party supporters via video link from France this morning.

2:34PM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Jenni Reid
Hun Sen crashes CNRP's party

A bus bearing the image of Prime Minister Hun Sen carries CPP supporters through a CNRP rally near the Cambodia-Japan Friendship bridge to sarcastic cheers.

2:27PM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Ananth Baliga
Kem Sokha arrives at rally

CNRP president Kem Sokha finally arrives at Chroy Changavar's Wat Chas to address tens of thousands of supporters before leading a rally across the city.

1:26PM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Ananth Baliga
Rainsy: So far but so near

Despite being exiled in France, former CNRP president Sam Rainsy's presence lingers at the party's last rally and push to woo voters ahead of Sunday's election.

12:22PM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Ananth Baliga
War of the words

CNRP and CPP supporters cross paths at a gas station near the Chroy Changvar roundabout. The CPP supporters had broken off from a massive rally led by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

There was some very enthusiastic sloganeering and dancing, but no confrontation.

11:58 AM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Shaun Turton
Hun Sen: 'If the CPP continues to lead, happiness will remain'

Hun Sen addressed supporters from a podium in the back of a truck at the Old Stadium roundabout beside the Cambodia-Japan Friendship bridge.

He told supporters: "It is happy now. If the CPP continues to lead the country, happiness will remain."

The remaining segments of the CPP rally will now travel to their respective areas in Phnom Penh to campaign until the evening.

11:00 AM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Niem Chheng
PM claims enormous turnout for final CPP rally

Hun Sen arrives to speak next to the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge. The premier claimed 200,000 CPP supporters were joining in with rallies today.

10:30 AM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Ananth Baliga
Rainsy calls to CNRP from afar

Awaiting their 2pm rally departure, CNRP supporters gathered at Chroy Changvar peninsula huddle around televisions as former party president Sam Rainsy addresses the close to 5,000-strong crowd via Skype.

"When the CNRP wins the election there will be a change in the political situation. Then I, Sam Rainsy, will immediately return to meet my brothers and sisters."

9:48 AM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Shaun Turton
CPP hits the road

As the tarmac heats up on Hun Sen Blvd, tens of thousands of CPP supporters wait for the rally to creep forward through Phnom Penh.

Sitting on his idling motorbike, Ly Song, a 63-year-old CPP member from Toul Kork, said he wasn't bothered by the heat.

"I will try to do whatever I can to make the CPP win."

9:38 AM, Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Shaun Turton
Hun Sen makes a rare appearance at rally

Hun Sen arrives at the podium on foot.

After a one hour speech to supporters on a roadside stage on Hun Sen Blvd this morning, the Prime Minister took off on the back of a flatbed truck.

"Let's go CPP!" he shouted as the truck kicked into gear and started on its way.

Prime Minister Hun Sen leaves a CPP rally this morning.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron, one of those in the front row, said he was confident of success, adding "our commune chiefs have worked very hard."

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron at a CPP rally.

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