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U.N. Rejects SOC Call for Poll Review

U.N. Rejects SOC Call for Poll Review

PHNOM PENH (AP) - The U.N. peacekeeping mission on June 9 rejected demands by the

State of Cambodia (SOC) government for a review of the results of Cambodia's election,

which it lost.

The same day, the leader of the opposition party that won the election returned to

the capital to join in delicate talks to break the tense deadlock caused by the SOC's

reluctance to hand over power.

SOC has alleged widespread irregularities in the May 23-28 balloting organized by

the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia, and said it would accept the

results only if an unnamed outside body cleared them.

The U.N. mission already has declared the election "free and fair," and

numerous independent election monitors agreed.

"It is unnecessary and redundant to establish another mechanism to further verify

the overall correctness of the electoral process," mission chief Yasushi Akashi

said in a letter to ruling party chief Chea Sim.

On ruling party charges that U.N. officials were involved in fraud during the election,

Akashi said: "I regard it as an unacceptable suggestion which I reject unequivocally."

Cambodian People's Party officials at first complained about irregularities and fraud

and insisted that new elections should be held in Battambang, Kompang Chhnang, Prey

Veng and Phnom Penh. But later, they threatened no to accept the election results

because of what they said was growing evidence of election malpractices.

"When we go through the reports we realize that new elections in a few provinces

will not be enough. That's why we think these proclaimed results should be discarded,

said Sok An, chief of the CPP cabinet.

SOC has warned of military unrest if the election results are allowed to stand.

There has been considerable concern about the reaction of the government's military

after the FUNCINPEC opposition party, led by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, was officially

declared the winner at the June 10 meeting of the Supreme National Council (SNC).

The day before, Minister of Defense Gen. Tea Banh and about 40 other senior military

and police officers met for an hour at the Royal Palace with Prince Norodom Sihanouk,

who is Ranariddh's father but functions as a neutral national reconciliation leader.

SOC spokesman Khieu Kanharith said that Premier Hun Sen has met with senior military

officers and urged them to stay calm.

"But we still feel that if there is a riot, it might get out of control,"

Kanharith said.

Spokesmen for Ranariddh said he had left the capital for security reasons during

the election, but they wouldn't say where he was.

Upon his return Wednesday morning, Ranariddh went immediately to the palace to see

his father. A palace spokesman said politics was not discussed.

FUNCINPEC did not win a majority in the constituent assembly, and so must work with

the ruling party.

Sihanouk tried last week to form an interim coalition government to stabilize the

country until the assembly forms a new government in three months. But he dropped

the plan overnight after Ranariddh complained that the distribution of power in the

coalition did not reflect his party's electoral victory.

The U.N. mission has encouraged the Cambodians to try again to seek an interim coalition,

and Ranariddh is likely to engage in such negotiations.

SOC backed Sihanouk's plan since it gives half the ministerial portfolios to each

side despite the faction's electoral loss.

The election was authorized by a 1991 peace agreement that was supposed to end 13

years of war between SOC and three guerrilla groups.

A spokesman for the Khmer Rouge, which boycotted the election, said on June 8 it

would wage war if SOC refused to give up power to FUNCINPEC.

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