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Akashi: Election "Free and fair"

Akashi: Election "Free and fair"

The chief of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) Yasushi

Akashi declared the constituent assembly elections' free and fair' on May 29, the

day after polling finished.

"In the opinion of the United Nations and the Secretary General the polling

has taken place in a very good, peaceful atmosphere, and I consider the polling is

free and fair," Akashi, the head of the 20,000-strong peacekeeping mission,

said after a meeting of the Supreme National Council (SNC) held in the Royal Palace.

Akashi said he was happy with the poll assessments made by three of the four representatives

of Cambodia's interim body, which he described as 'very positive'.

"I expressed my gratitude and satisfaction for all these statements," he

said adding that the polling had met with full endorsement of the SNC's President

Prince Norodom Sihanouk and British Ambassador David Burns who spoke on behalf of

the Core Group.

Sihanouk took the eleventh-hour decision to return to the country to give moral support

to his compatriots during the poll.

He praised the poll outcome as a 'historic decision' of Cambodian voters and declared

it should be abided by all the parties.

"We, the SNC, except a few members, have to take into account this decision

irreversible of our Cambodian people," he said.

"I must very clearly take into account this historic decision of my people,"

he stressed.

Sam Rainsy of the royalist FUNCINPEC also said he was satisfied with the election

while Ieng Mouly of BLDP (Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party) gave 90 percent approval

of the polling, he said.

"Now, everybody said election went freely and fairly, so the recognition of

the result is automatic," SOC's (State of Cambodia) Premier Hun Sen old reporters

after the session.

Akashi did not clarify that his decision of 'free and fair' was accepted by the three

factions, but affirmed journalists' questions that statements made by the three SNC's

members were satisfactory and positive.

"On the whole they seem to be eager to approve the result of the election,"

said Akashi.

The proof of 'free and fair' is attributable to the voter turnout which was higher

than U.N. personnel had predicted ahead of the opening the poling booths.

"The impression is the atmosphere which was very relaxed, happy and positive,

and popular verdict can not be denied by anybody," he added.

The UNTAC Chief told journalists that the door of further dialogue with the Khmer

Rouge, which boycotted the elections, is still open, but Khmer Rouge leader Khieu

Samphan responded in a letter that "this is dialogue with the deaf".

The next SNC meeting was agreed to be held on June 5, and the inaugural meeting of

the constituent assembly was scheduled for June 6.

In a statement issued by the United States Mission to the SNC, Senator John McCain

said the government and the party of the State of Cambodia had pledged to respect

the result of the election.

The U.S. senator was on a three day visit to Cambodia where he met with Hun Sen and

CPP (Cambodia People's Party) President Chea Sim.

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