Big Names Heading Smaller Parties Left Out

First Prime Minister Ung Huot appears to be out. National As­sembly First Vice Chairman Loy Sim Chheang and Second Vice Chairman Son Soubert are likely out too.

As results from Sunday’s Na­tional Assembly elections trickle in, big names in Cam­bodian politics who split off to form their own parties or joined others appear to be soon out of parliamentary jobs.

Minister of Information Ieng Mouly (Buddhist Liberal Party), Minister of Industry Mines and Energy Pou Sothirak (Reastr Niyum) and Siem Reap Gov­ernor Toan Chay (National Unity Party) are among the names whose recently formed parties failed to inspire voters.

While early results from independent watchdog Committee for Free and Fair Elections and the National Election Committee are incomplete, many of these parties have so far barely cracked the 1 percent mark—far below the estimated 5 to 10 percent needed to gain at least one seat.

Most parties are crying foul over election procedures.

“The [Buddhist Liberal Party] seriously doubts the election results we have received at this time,” a party statement from Ieng Mouly’s party said Wed­nesday.

Loy Sim Chheang, president of the Sangkum Thmei Party, also said the process was not free and fair and cited an example from five communes in Svay Rieng province.

“In five of the communes, we only got 22 votes. This cannot be exact,” Loy Sim Chheang said. “The NEC is only releasing numbers from the three major parties, how can we know the numbers?”

Loy Sim Chheang is among the Funcinpec members who stayed behind and made peace with the CPP after Prince Noro­dom Rana­riddh, Funcinpec president then first prime minister, was deposed in fighting last July.

Other former Funcinpec members include Ung Huot, who founded the Reastr Niyum Party, Pou Sothirak, Toan Chhay and top Reastr Niyum members Nady Tan, Nuon Kanun and Chea Penh Chheang .

“It’s normal that we are disappointed,” said Reastr Niyum Sec­retary-General Pou Sothirak, who lost his seat to the CPP in Siha­noukville. “When we fail an exam we are usually un­happy.”

The BLDP, which held 10 seats in the National Assembly, split into three groups, the Son Sann, Buddhist Liberal and Light of Liberty parties, none of which apparently came close to winning a seat.

Son Sann Party First Vice Pre­sident Keat Sukun, also cited an unfair election process and said the party does not recognize the results, but admitted his party is not what it was in 1993.

“The split made the party weaker,” he admitted. “It was also one of the causes [of the de­feat].”

Peter Schier of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation said it is too early to make an in-depth analysis on how the small parties fared. However, the new parties may have had unrealistic expectations in believing they could win a seat. Some may have been ego-driven, and misjudged their popularity, others may not have understood the electoral system well, Schier  said.

Looking at some results, he said: “The traditionally well-known parties still got more votes than the new parties…even if their resources were considerable.”


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