Cambodia Elections: Opposition Rejects Win by PM Hun Sen – Asia’s Longest-Serving Leader

Thanks to Golden Age of Gaia.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen kisses a ballot at a polling station during the general election, in Kandal province. Photo: AFPCambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen kisses a ballot at a polling station during the general election, in Kandal province. Photo: AFP

By Lindsay Murdoch, South-East Asia correspondent for Fairfax Media – – July 29, 2013

Cambodia’s opposition has rejected a claim by Prime Minister Hun Sen that he has won Sunday’s national elections, demanding an investigation into fraud and vote rigging allegations.

As tensions escalated over the shock loss of at least 29 seats by Mr Hun’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), key opposition leader Sam Rainsy called for an urgent committee to be set up to investigate complaints.

Hun Sen has dominated Cambodia’s politics for 28 years.

‘‘We cannot accept the results. The results do not reflect the will of the people,’’ Mr Rainsy told journalists.

Mr Rainsy wants the committee to include representatives of Mr Hun’s party, the United Nations, civil organisations and the National Election Commission.

Earlier, government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith estimated from initial counting that the CPP had won 68 seats in the 123-seat parliament, a loss of 29 seats that wipes out Mr Hun’s two-thirds super-majority in parliament.

‘‘The CPP would like to express gratitude to all compatriots for voting for the party to lead the country for another five years,’’ the CPP said in a statement.

Mr Rainsy said it was an ‘‘historic’’ day for Cambodia and urged his supporters to maintain calm and wait for official results to be released.

The result provides a huge boost for the opposition, giving it a strong platform and signalling greater vibrancy in the country’s political system.

The ruling party has already challenged the opposition to produce evidence of fraud to the National Election Committee, a nominally independent agency led by officials close to the CPP.

Mr Hun, 61, is Asia’s longest-serving leader, dominating Cambodian politics for 28 years and maintaining a strong hold over state agencies, the military, police and the media.

He made no immediate comment on the result and did not campaign as opponents took to the streets of Phnom Penh for days demanding change.

On Sunday, an angry crowd set fire to two police cars outside a polling booth but generally the election was peaceful.

Mr Hun is likely to react to the result by reshuffling the top echelons of his government and party, where businesspeople say corruption is endemic.

He is also likely to see the magnitude of the loss of seats as a huge blow to his personal standing, analysts say.

For decades Mr Hun, a former Khmer Rouge cadre, built strong loyalties by bringing political stability and economic growth in a country emerging from civil war and genocide. But his standing has been eroded by land grabs, corruption and high unemployment for higher educated youths.

More than a third of the country’s 9.6 million voters are less than 30 years old.

Mr Hun has vowed to rule for another decade and has brought three of his US military-trained sons into key positions in the ruling CPP and the military.

The loss of a super-majority in parliament will force the government to seek opposition approval to change the constitution and better scrutinise the government by setting up parliamentary committees, which it has been unable to do in the past.

The election consolidates Mr Rainsy, 64, a French-educated banker, as opposition leader only nine days after he returned to the country from exile.

He fled the country in 2009 to escape jail on criminal charges he says were politically motivated.

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