battambang town – The CPP appeared to have a clear lead here Tuesday, with the latest provisional results showing the party 19,000 votes ahead of second-place Funcinpec, with 10 communes still to declare.
CPP candidate Chang Von said he was happy with the Battambang result but had thought his party would perform better in the province.
“We won because we have done a lot of work, [but] we expected we could win more than this,” he said.
“This result reflects our shortage in some districts. We need to find out our weak points and our strong points in order to make people satisfied with us in the next election.”
Provisional figures from the provincial election commission gave the Sam Rainsy Party a 26-percent share, a favorable result for a party new to the political scene, the party’s vice president, Doung Chhiet, said Tuesday.
“We could never be as strong as the ruling CPP,” Doung Chhiet said. “[But] despite a lack of neutrality in the campaign, intimidation and suppression, we still won in many districts.”
The party fared well in former Khmer Rouge areas, winning the new districts of Samphan Luon, Phnom Proek and Hamsieng.
Final results here have been delayed in part by a CPP complaint over the count in Ta Mouen commune, in Battambang district. National Election Committee Vice Chairman Kassie Neou was scheduled to fly here today to oversee a recount.
“The CPP said its observers were not content and would not sign the report,” PEC president Kong Srun said, explaining that the CPP only had observers at 10 of the 16 counting tables and questioned a Funcinpec win in the commune.
Funcinpec complained that it was not CPP party agents but district officials who contested the decision. Candidate Mu Sochea said the local authorities had no right to detain the ballot papers for recounting.
“The CEC [commune election commission] here are afraid of the authorities. They didn’t dare take the box to the provincial election commission,” Mu Sochea said Tuesday.
The CPP’s vice chairman in Battambang played down the incident, saying the party has been concerned about spoiled ballot papers and has simply demanded a recount.
Both Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party here have complained that it was not made clear how many party agents would be needed for counting day. The parties said they were unaware the votes would be counted at separate tables by teams of election officials. Consequently, they did not have enough observers to witness the count.
“We had already demobilized our voting observers and kept only three agents for each count,” said Doung Chhiet.
“How could our observers assess and monitor the count? Three people could not watch 16 different tables,” he complained.
Funcinpec’s Mu Sochea said she complained to election authorities and to Kassie Neou about the number of party observers.