CPP Declares Landslide Win in Commune Poll

The CPP proclaimed a massive victory in Sunday’s commune elections, with government spokesman and CPP Information Minister Khieu Kanharith unofficially declaring the ruling party winning more than 98 percent of the country’s 1,621 communes.

According to preliminary results, Khieu Kanharith claimed that 98.3 percent of commune chief positions were taken by the CPP, which has held 98.6 percent of the commune chief positions since the first commune council elections in 2002.

The remainder of the commune chief positions “belong to the others,” Khieu Kanharith said, adding that the CPP had anticipated winning between 97 and 98 percent of the positions.

“Absolutely the CPP is winning the election,” he said, adding that unofficially, the CPP has also taken 73 of Phnom Penh’s 76 commune chief positions, while the SRP has taken the remaining three.

“But the SRP won more communes in the provinces,” he said.

SRP leader Sam Rainsy said that his party had won at least 26 commune chief positions in at least nine provinces and Phnom Penh, and may have won 28. The SRP won 13 commune chief positions in the 2002 commune elections, six of them in Phnom Penh.

Sam Rainsy said the SRP has more than doubled its number of commune councilors in the country, and now has representation in over 90 percent of communes, versus 60 percent in 2002.

“The political landscape in Cam­bodia has changed tonight,” Sam Rainsy said late Sunday. “The SRP has become the only alternative to the CPP.”

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections had results in for 260 communes in 22 provinces Sunday night. The SRP had won seven commune chief positions, while the remaining 253 had gone to the CPP.

The National Election Commit­tee said preliminary results from 50 communes showed that all 50 chief positions had gone to the CPP. According to preliminary NEC results from 10 Phnom Penh communes, the CPP won 15,140 votes; the SRP, 9,833; the Norodom Ranariddh Party, 544; Funcinpec, 421; and Prince Sisowath Thomi­co’s fledgling Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party, 10.

NRP spokesman Muth Chan­ntha said the NRP had so far won three commune chief positions.

“We went from zero to some communes,” he said. He added, however, that the NRP does not view the elections as being free and fair.

Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay said that he so far had information from about 100 communes, two of which had gone to Funcinpec.

“The election process was generally good. The only problem is low turnout. About 30 percent of voters did not come to vote,” he said.

      (Additional reporting by Chhay Channyda.)

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