Diplomats Told Not to Interfere or Support Opposition

With the ruling CPP and opposition CNRP both claiming victory in Sunday’s national election and official results pending, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday called on all foreign diplomatic missions not to interfere in the country’s internal affairs, and not to support the opposition.

In a brief statement, the Foreign Affairs Ministry mentioned no names but urged all countries not to back the CNRP.

“The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation would like to urge foreign diplomatic missions not to play a role to support the opposition party,” it said.

“Without prejudice to their privileges and immunity, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state,” the ministry said.

“They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of the state,” the ministry added.

The Foreign Ministry statement followed the U.S. State Department’s call for an investigation into election day irregularities, which echoed a similar request by the CNRP. Japan, another major donor to Cambodia, also backed calls for an investigation into irregularities in a statement Wednesday.

While the U.S. and European Union have held back on a final assessment of the poll, China, a one-party state that does not have general elections, and Hungary are the only two countries thus far to expressly endorse the elections as free, fair and transparent.

The International Conference of Asian Political Parties and Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International, which sent 291 election observers at the request of the National Election Committee (NEC), and whose expenses were paid for by the government, has done the same.

Bangladesh and Thailand have both officially congratulated Mr. Hun Sen for winning the poll.

Catherine Ashton, the high representative of the E.U., issued a statement on Tuesday saying that not enough recommendations from European observers to improve the elections were met. The E.U. said that Cambodia’s last national election in 2008 failed to meet international standards and refrained from sending observers this time.

CNRP president Sam Rainsy and vice president Kem Sokha met with the E.U. delegation in Phnom Penh for two hours Wednesday afternoon. Both men de­clined to comment upon leaving the meeting.

CNRP lawmaker candidate Mu Sochua, who also attended, said the meeting “went really well.”

Ms. Sochua said they discussed only the letter the opposition sent the NEC on Tuesday calling for the formation of an independent body to investigate reports of widespread voting irregularities on Sunday.

The E.U. supported the call for an investigation, she said, but declined to elaborate.

The E.U. did not reply to a request for comment.

The U.S., which had called for free and fair elections leading up to Sunday’s poll, said on Monday it was “concerned” by the number of reported irregularities and called for a “transparent and full” investigation.

Transparency International and the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel) have both reported observing widespread voting irregularities on Sunday. Most complaints were from registered voters who could not cast ballots either because their names did not appear on the official voter roll or because they were told by poll workers that they had voted already.

Comfrel had warned ahead of the poll that problems with the voter roll could disenfranchise at least 1 million Cambodians, more than 1 in 10 registered voters.

The NEC says it will issue preliminary election results on August 10. The CPP is claiming to have won 68 of the National Assembly’s 123 seats. The CNRP claims to have won 63. Either party would need at least 62 to form the next government.

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