Live Coverage: Commune Elections 2017

11:41 p.m.

The National Election Committee has stopped its count of ballots in today’s Commune Election and we will resume tomorrow morning.

10:28 p.m.

CNRP Vice President Mu Sochua says the opposition will be asking for recounts in any communes in which the vote count between the two major parties varied by 1 percent or less. She acknowledged the election results released by the government aligned Fresh News, which showed the CNRP trailing the CPP by 1163 to 482, but says the CNRP is still calculating the vote totals.

9:10 p.m.

Government affiliated Fresh News is reporting the CPP won 1163 communes, compared to 482 for the opposition CNRP. These are unofficial results in today’s Commune Election, the first local vote in Cambodia in five years. The NEC vote-count is trailing. Popular vote totals yet to come.

8:34 p.m.

The NEC is starting to release the results of today’s Commune Elections.

Count begins with “B”…Banteay Meanchey province. It’s going to be a long night.

7:53 p.m.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea says preliminary results are in for today’s commune elections, but are delayed because of internet woes. He says the National Election Committee’s nine members are verifying the results now.

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7:33 p.m.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea is speaking from the Hotel Sofitel Phnom Penh. He is continuing to explain the vote counting process for today’s commune election and has apologized for the delay in releasing any preliminary results. He said they are upcoming.

6:44 p.m.

Top leadership at CNRP watching for results of today’s Commune Election at its headquarter in Chak Angrae Leu commune.

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Photo posted to Mr. Kem Sokha’s Facebook page.

6:01 p.m.

Big media presence at the National Election Committee in Phnom Penh tonight as the Commune Election vote comes in from across Cambodia.

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(Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

5:34 p.m.

Cambodia’s National Election Committee is holding a news conference.

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(Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

5:04 p.m.

The NEC has released the total number of people who cast their votes today. Out of 7,865,033 registered voters, 6,743,329 voted, it said. That amounts to a turnout of about 85 percent

4:45 p.m.

Votes are being counted at Boeung Trabek high school in Chamkarmon district’s Tonle Bassac commune in Phnom Penh. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

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(Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily) (Sek Odom/The Cambodia Daily)

3:00 p.m.

Polling stations are closed.

2:50 p.m.

Polling stations to close in 10 minutes. The NEC says it will have some preliminary results at 5:00 p.m.

2:37 p.m.

Four voters in Tbong Khmum province who drove to their polling places on motorbikes with Vietnamese license plates had their motorbikes temporarily impounded, according to provincial police chief Pen Rath. He says the drivers were allowed to vote, but were told to come back tomorrow with documents proving their ownership. Information Minister Khieu Kanharith posted about the situation on his Facebook page, saying two activists had driven to the polls with “ill intention to put blame and attack the ruling party and NEC” for allowing a “Yuon” to vote — using a derogatory term for Vietnamese. (Kuch Naren/The Cambodia Daily)

2:31 p.m.

Polling observers. From left to right: Cambodia Youth Federation, CPP, CNRP, Comfrel, CPP. All said they’re happy to be here. (Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)


2:19 p.m.

Activist monk Loun Sovath said he was ordered to leave a voting site in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district by police and election officials this morning for filming people outside the voting stations. “When I asked them what law…they said it was not wrong but because of public security,” he said. Loun Sovath said he heeded the order, but disagreed with it. “In a democratic country, we have the right to stand and to film,” he said. (Zsombor Peter/The Cambodia Daily)

12:23 p.m.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea says the League for Democracy Party (LDP) was warned by the NEC today for violating commune election law by doing “live coverage on social media,” which has been prohibited on Election Day and the day prior. “Every party is informed to halt live coverage right away,” he says. (Sek Odom/The Cambodia Daily)

12:04 p.m.

CNRP president Kem Sokha says the party hopes to get more than 60 percent of the vote in today’s commune elections. He says the opposition already stated its plan and now “how much we get will depend on the people.”

He added, “So far, the voting process is better than the previous mandate. Later on, what it will be, I don’t know.”

“Compared to the previous mandate…the show of the will to support the CNRP is more than the previous time,” he said. “Complaining is normal. Whoever wants to complain, I don’t care much. The important thing is the CNRP wants to win with prestige and win with honor.” (Ouch Sony/The Cambodia Daily)

11:45 a.m.

Student Phun Panha, 21, voted this morning at Boeung Trabek high school in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district, saying that one vote makes a difference. He says that if he “didn’t come to vote I would feel very sorry, because I’m the right age and I have the right. I have the right to choose the leader that I prefer.”

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11:35 a.m.

Transparency International’s initial report from the polls says the ballot box was shown to be empty, sealed, and placed in public view before the start of voting at 99.8 percent of polling stations. It also found that 95 percent of polling stations did not have campaign materials present within 100 meters outside of the polling station, as required.

11:23 a.m.

88 percent of Cambodia’s polling stations opened on time this morning, according to Transparency International which sent more than 1,000 trained observers to polling stations around the country.  The group sent out is initial observations a few minutes ago, saying nearly all polling stations — 99.8 percent — had representatives from the political parties present at the polls. Its says the CPP and CNRP had party agents at 94 percent of the polls and other political party agents were at 46 percent of polling stations.

11:05 a.m.

Hotel worker Kan Sothea voted this morning at Chak Angrae Leu primary school polling station, saying he now feels that he “fulfilled my duty as a citizen of Phnom Penh.” It’s the second time the 27-year-old has voted. He says it feels like this election has proceeded smoothly this season.
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10:22 a.m.

Yim Vanny, 63, used to be a teacher at this school that’s being used today as a polling station for Cambodia’s first commune election in five years. He says he’s voted every time since 1993. “I’m very happy to participate and vote.”

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10:15 a.m.

CNRP president Kem Sokha has cast his ballot at the Chak Angrae Leu primary school polling station in Phnom Penh.

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10:05 a.m.

National Election Committee spokesman Hang Puthea says voters have been showing up in droves all morning. He says that in the two hours after polls opened at 7 a.m., about 30 percent  of voters had already cast their ballots. He says there have been no reports of irregularities.

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(Brendan O’Byrne)

9:35 a.m.

At the Chak Angrae Leu primary school polling station in Phnom Penh, the lines to vote snaked for many meters in the early morning.

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(Photos by Hannah Hawkins)

9:15 a.m.

Early lines at a polling station set up under a tent along the Tonle Sap river in Phnom Penh’s Riverside neighborhood.

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9:05 a.m.

Poll stations opened across the country at 7 a.m. and Prime Minister Hun Sen was among the first to vote. He cast his vote in Takhmao City and told those gathered around: “This ink looks like it cannot erase.”

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(Photos by Siv Channa)

Update: 4:15 p.m.

Kem Sokha crossed the Japanese Friendship Bridge, with his open-air car passing a convoy of motorbikes to head to the front of the parade. Loudspeakers and megaphones blared campaign songs as supporters chanted “Win or not?” “Win!” and “Change or not?” “Change!”

A drone floating overhead caused many motorists to pause their snail’s pace to cheer and wave.

Update: 4:03 p.m.

The CNRP rally is on the street 289 and passing by the military police headquarter in Toul Kork district.

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(Sek Odom/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 3:29 p.m.

CNRP rally is passing through the Chroy Chongva district roundabout.

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(Sek Odom/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 2:50 p.m.

CNRP president Kem Sokha appealed to garment workers and government officials at this afternoon’s opposition rally speech, urging them to vote on Sunday to choose the leaders of their communities, saying “this is very important for brothers and sisters in the community.” He added: “To vote in an election, as a democracy,  no party needs to tell you to vote for which party. It’s your right as a Khmer citizen to decide.” (Sek Odom)

Update: 2: 42 p.m.:

Kem Sokha’s voice is hoarse following a marathon campaign where he held rallies in different provinces nearly every day since May 20. After climbing onto a truck to speak to supporters this afternoon, he talked about the importance of the commune elections to the future of the country. He encouraged voters to know how to find their polling stations and to help their friends and coworkers find where to vote.

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(Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 2: 25 p.m.:

CNRP president Kem Sokha is addressing his supporters this afternoon near Sokha Hotel before the opposition’s final Phnom Penh rally before Sunday’s commune elections.

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(Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)
Update: 1: 59 p.m.:

CNRP supporters gather along the riverside in advance of party president Kem Sokha’s afternoon speech.

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Siv Channa/ The Cambodia Daily)
Update: 12: 46 p.m.:

Prime Minister Hun Sen revealed today that the CPP paid for several television channels to carry the live broadcast of the ruling party’s election rally.

At what cost? “I would like to inform the National Election Committee that we hired the air time and it cost US $300 per minute,” Mr. Hun Sen said. “The National Election Committee requires all private televisions to allow political parties to rent time for airing.”

He said the live broadcast of the CPP rally was aired on Bayon, BTV, CTN, CNC, One TV, CTN International, Hang Meas, PNN and SEA TV.

“So I hope that other political parties if they want to rent the air time, please go to hire at the same price,” Hun Sen said.

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(Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 12: 34 p.m.:

Pan Vanrith and his family are all wearing CPP shirts and hats — in the middle of the CNRP rally.

“If they support the CNRP, that’s their right,” the 51-year-old said as he sat outside his pharmacy near Wat Chas. “If we support the CPP, that’s our right.”

He said he hasn’t had any problems with CNRP supporters, and even let a few use his bathroom. “We don’t discriminate against people who support different parties.”

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(Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)
Update: 11: 53 a.m.:
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(Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

As the procession portion of today’s CPP rally draws to a close, it’s worth comparing it to a roughly similar rally held by the CNRP two weeks ago. The ruling party’s organizational advantage really shined today, with huge turnout, good organization, and the extra star power of the prime minister himself.

In his first speech, Mr. Hun Sen riffed that his wife and children had advised him to wear a CPP short-sleeved polo shirt because that’s what his supporters would be wearing. That kind of populist touch was on display today.

Update: 11: 37 a.m.:

Not everyone was thrilled with today’s street-clogging election rallies. A young student expressed frustrated because the parade blocked the road he needed to use to get to an 11 a.m. English exam. “I think it’s taking forever,” he said, sipping an iced coffee drink layered with whipped cream.

The student said he had no plans to vote: “I’m not taking any side. It’s complicated.” (Ben Paviour/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 11: 33 a.m.:
Hun Sen is wrapping up his speech at a Chroy Changvar district roundabout.
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(Hannah Hawkins/The Cambodia Daily)


Update: 11: 27 a.m.:
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CNRP supporters join final day campaign. (Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)
Update: 11: 25 a.m.:
 As Prime Minister Hun Sen’s convoy was leaving the center stage this morning, the rally emcee announced that supporters could exchange their CPP facial stickers for food tomorrow.

He said: “Do not throw away the stickers because you can use them to eat breakfast free tomorrow morning.”

Unfortunately, he did not say which restaurants would accept the stickers and exchange them for rice porridge, noodle soup or fried eggs and coffee. (Kuch Naren/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 11: 21 a.m.:
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CNRP rally in Phnom Penh. (Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)
Update: 11: 12 a.m.:

Prime Minister Hun Sen used his first election campaign in decades to appeal to the little children standing on either side of Monivong Boulvevard as his convoy passed through Phnom Penh this morning.

“Thank you nephews and nieces…when you reach the voting ages, please vote for CPP,” he said.

He might be enjoying himself. He also vowed to join a rally for the 2018 national election. (Kuch Naren/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 10: 29 a.m.:

Cambodia Daily reporter Sek Odom climbs atop an anchor sculpture to get a better photograph of today’s CNRP commune election rally in Phnom Penh.

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(Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 10: 22 a.m.:

Former CNRP president Sam Rainsy is talking with opposition supporters via Skype at today’s final pre-election rally.  He says: “Thank you to many people, especially the youth, that have sacrificed to join the CNRP, which will rescue the country.” He also vowed to “meet all brothers and sisters soon, when our party is successful and we win the national election in 2018.” Commune elections, which will gauge party support across the country, are Sunday. (Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)

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(Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 9: 58 a.m.:

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(Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 9: 56 a.m.:

The prime minister is standing atop a truck that’s moving at the speed of a slow jog speed through the crowd as a helicopter and various drones circle overhead. He’s using a microphone to yell out: “Vote for the CPP! Please, please!” The optics of this rally are impressive and clearly well thought out. (Ben Paviour/The Cambodia Daily)

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(Hannah Hawkins/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 9: 50 a.m.:

Prime Minister Hun Sen just finished a marathon speech in scorching heat, and kilometer after kilometer of supporters on his eponymous boulevard are now looking toward the stage, eager for a glimpse of their leader. The crowd is larger, older, and far mellower than the CNRP rally here two weeks ago.

Update: 9:43 a.m.:

(Hannah Hawkins/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 9:41 a.m.:

Following short speeches from CNRP lawmakers and activists, the party took a break for 30 minutes of music. Following that, the rally featured a live Skype call with exiled former opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

Mr. Rainsy dropped out of the party and off the ticket back in February after the ruling party amended the Law on Political Parties to make it easier to eliminate the CNRP because he had a criminal record. So officially, he’s out. But his image remains — on shirts and hats, at least — and his voice is being used in ad spots. (Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 9:30 a.m. 

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(Hannah Hawkins/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 9:19 a.m.

Yim Sovann addresses a crowd of supporters and talks about sharing the benefits of development and changing the leadership. Mentions Sam Rainsy, to big applause, and also says Kem Sokha will arrive around 2 for the march. “win or not?” “Win!” Call and response with crowd 3 times to end his speech. (Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)

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(Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 9:10 a.m.

Prime Minister Hun Sen talked about allegations that the ink used for thumbprinting ballots on Sunday was erasable with specific solvents. He told the crowd: “I would like to appeal to all political parties to accept the election results. Please don’t accuse the ink of being erasable. Don’t be frustrated……We don’t know who will lose, who will win, but we hope that we will win.” (Chhorn Phearun/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 9:05 a.m.
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Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the CPP rally (Hannah Hawkins/The Cambodia Daily)

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A woman in the crowd holds a portrait of the prime minister. (Hannah Hawkins/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 8:55 a.m.

“Which party toppled the Pol Pot regime?” Hun Sen asked the crowd at the CPP’s final campaign rally this morning. “Which party has the most achievements developing the country?”

The prime minister is speaking extensively about Pol Pot and the CPP’s role in removing his regime.
He also divulged the reason he broke with tradition to campaign today. He said it was in response to Facebook petitioners asking why he did not join the first CPP rally on May 20. (Ben Paviour/The Cambodia Daily)
cleardotUpdate: 8:50 a.m.

In what’s been described as his first campaign appearance in many years, Prime Minister Hun Sen admonished those from other countries whom he feels have meddled in Cambodia’s affairs. He said: “Foreigners: Do not interfere in government affairs.” (Chhorn Phearun/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 8:40 a.m.

Hun Sen is talking about the government’s effort to improve people’s incomes and standard of living. “All of the garment factory workers, you have jobs today because of the government, which is ruled by the CPP.” The prime minister also appealed to migrant workers, saying the government had worked hard to help them become legal in Thailand. (Chhorn Phearun/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 8:35 a.m.

Crowd awaits for Prime Minister Hun Sen

Update: 8: 25 A.M.:

Hun Sen circled the crowd in his helicopter for several minutes. It then landed and he was driven to the stage on Hun Sen Boulevard in Phnom Penh. When he got out and mingled with the crowd in the scorching heat, the people swarmed to touch him or better yet, take a selfie. Early in his speech, the prime minister talked about the importance of this election. A win on Sunday is bigger than a commune chief, he says, adding it’s a win for the party and for the country.

Mr. Hun Sen, who was recently hospitalized in Singapore for extreme exhaustion, isn’t expected to speak long.

Update: 7: 55 a.m.:

Prime Minister Hun Sen is circling the crowd in his helicopter as they cheer. Tens of thousands of supporters out in the heat this morning. (Ben Paviour/The Cambodia Daily)

Update:  7:43 a.m.: 

Tens of thousands of CPP supporters have lined Hun Sen Boulevard, waiting for the man who gave it it’s name. With very heavy security, this is a much more carefully choreographed rally than the one Kem Sokha and the opposition held here two weeks ago, with significantly higher turnout. (Ben Paviour/The Cambodia Daily)

Commune Elections 2017 3

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