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Protests over vote go global

Cambodians living in North America protest the results of last month’s general elections in front of the United Nations in New York.
Cambodians living in North America protest the results of last month’s general elections in front of the United Nations in New York. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Protests over vote go global

Thousands across the globe yesterday joined a chorus of many here in Cambodia to demand that the United Nations play a prominent role in investigating alleged widespread voter fraud during last month’s national Cambodian elections.

About 1,000 people attended a demonstration outside UN headquarters in New York, with hundreds more attending protests at UN buildings in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and multiple other cities, said Prom Saunora, a board member of the group Cambodian-Americans for Human Rights and Democracy.

“We see only one solution. If the United Nations does not get involved, it’s not going to solve the Cambodian [election] problem,” Saunora said.

“Even if the election results came out and the [Cambodia National Rescue Party] won the election, [Prime Minister] Hun Sen isn’t going to let them take power.”

Demonstrations also took place in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with more planned in Europe in coming days, Saunora said.

Since Information Minister Khieu Kanharith initially announced the ruling Cambodian People’s Party won with 68 seats to the CNRP’s 55 on the night of the July 28 vote, CNRP members and supporters have decried the results as fraudulent and threatened massive demonstrations if they are not declared victors.

The opposition has called for a joint investigative committee into election irregularities that would include oversight by the United Nations, a condition repeatedly deemed impossible by the ruling party, which said it would be illegal to have international involvement.

Despite its long support of Cambodian elections, the United Nations now had no legal right to step in without a request from the government, election watchdog Comfrel executive director Koul Panha said.

In an emailed response yesterday, the UNDP country office said that electoral complaints should be adjudicated fairly to accurately determine the will of the Cambodian people and reiterated it was willing to step in, if invited.

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