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NRP reverses rejection of poll results

NRP reverses rejection of poll results

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HENG CHIVOAN

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, holding up a 10-18 voter form, maintains that massive fraud gave the CPP an unfair advantage in last month’s polls.

THE Norodom Ranariddh Party announced Tuesday that it would endorse the results of last month's general election, abandoning fellow opposition parties in their fight against what they say were rigged polls that gave an advantage to the ruling Cambodian People's Party.

NRP deputy secretary general Suth Dina said the party had made its abrupt turnaround following a generally positive assessment of the polls by international observers.

"The NRP regards the elections as...in accordance with the democratic process of Cambodia," the party said in a statement. "In order to keep its sovereignty, the NRP would like to declare that it will not make an alliance with the Sam Rainsy Party under any circumstances."

Party spokesman Muth Chantha could not be reached for comment. But others said they thought the move was made to try and facilitate party leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh's return to Cambodia.

Ranariddh left the country last year under a cloud of legal problems, including a fraud conviction over his illegal sale of the headquarters of his former party, Funcinpec, and a pending prosecution for adultery.

"The NRP changed its stance from rejecting to supporting the election results with the aim of helping [Ranariddh] come back to Cambodia," said Dr Heang Rithy, president of the Cambodian National Research Organisation, adding that the July 27 polls were in fact not fair because thousands of people's names were missing from voter lists.

The NRP cross-over leaves only the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party to contest the results.

In a joint press conference Tuesday, opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Ou Chanrath, secretary general of the HRP, said they were not surprised by the prince's decision to embrace the election results, which are expected to give his party only two National Assembly seats.

"We knew that Norodom Ranariddh was still the same...his stance has never been firm," said Ou Chanrath. "Many times he has merged [with other parties] and then withdrawn. I believe there is something behind this for his benefit, but not the benefit of the people."

The CPP is expected to win 90 of the Assembly's 123 seats, with the SRP coming in second with 26 seats. 

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