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Opposition chief’s US visit includes UN sit-down

Complaints filed by opposition supporters flood a bulletin board at the National Election Committee headquarters in Phnom Penh.
Complaints filed by opposition supporters flood a bulletin board at the National Election Committee headquarters in Phnom Penh. HENG CHIVOAN

Opposition chief’s US visit includes UN sit-down

As his party continues its efforts to form a joint committee to investigate alleged irregularities in last month’s election, opposition leader Sam Rainsy will touch down in Phnom Penh today, fresh from a meeting with the United Nations in New York.

Philip Sen, communications officer at the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator, said yesterday that Rainsy – who was visiting the US for his daughter’s wedding – met with UN officials on Monday. That meeting came shortly after the NEC released preliminary election results that supported the CPP’s claims of a 68-55 victory.

“Senior officials from the UN Department of Political Affairs met Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy on 12 August in New York,” Sen wrote in an email, without revealing details of what was said. “The Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United Nations also participated in the meeting.”

The CNRP declined to give details of the meeting and what bearing it would have on the party’s strategy when Rainsy arrives home today. In protest against Monday’s results, the opposition yesterday lodged official complaints with the NEC, maintaining it won the election with a slim majority of 63 seats.

CNRP chief whip Son Chhay said one type of complaint relates to the result itself, while others focus specifically on alleged irregularities.

Central to the second complaint was the role that the NEC’s 1102 election forms, on which its staff recorded results at polling stations, may have played in such irregularities, he added.

“The president will lodge the second complaint on behalf of the party related to the 1102 [forms]. The NEC must allow an investigation into the 1102 forms,” he said.

Monitors have called for the release of the NEC’s 1102 forms, which can be easily checked for irregularities against the identical 1104 forms filled out at each polling station by NGO and political party monitors.

CNRP senior official Kuoy Bunroeun told reporters outside NEC headquarters that the opposition wanted the election body – which it says is government controlled – to review its mechanisms.

“We must respect the will of the people who lost their right to vote,” he said.

The CNRP continued to demand that it, along with the CPP, form part of a committee to review election irregularities and that the NEC be confined to the role of a facilitator.

Chhay said it was realistic to form such a committee over the next 20 days – the amount of time the NEC has to investigate complaints.

But the response of the CPP and NEC suggest the door could be closing on a collaborative approach to settling the disagreement.

NEC secretary general Tep Nytha said it was getting too late to form a committee.

“Now we’ve issued temporary results, if [the CNRP is] not content with the NEC’s decision, it could file a complaint to the Constitutional Council,” he said.

Cheam Yeap, a senior CPP lawmaker, repeated his view that a joint committee could only be formed with the NEC playing a central role.