By 8 p.m. on the day of the July 28 election, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith was declaring victory for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP with 68 seats to the opposition’s 55.
In the days that followed, preliminary results released by the National Election Committee (NEC) arrived at the same 68-55 outcome, but the NEC is now imploring the public to ignore any talk of those tallies for fear of creating social instability.
On Monday, the NEC released a statement, admonishing political parties and social and mainstream media outlets for publishing the unofficial election results and saying that such behavior could lead to social unrest.
The NEC did not, however, make any mention of the recent warnings of social unrest made by Prime Minister Hun Sen should the opposition demonstrate against the results of the election.
“The National Election Committee would like to inform the public that recently the political parties, some media and social networks broadcast the vote result of the 5th mandate of the National Assembly Election improperly and without precise basis. That misinformation can lead to confusion that causes social pollution to be disorderly and insecure,” the NEC said.
“The NEC calls on all public not to care about or believe that misinformation. Please wait for the information about the result of the 5th National Assembly Election that the NEC will announce after a clear verification, and a complete list of complaints and reports of electoral irregularities are solved.”
Both parties are currently in a standoff over the election outcome.
Negotiations to investigate widespread irregularities on election day are also stalled after the CPP and NEC rejected a CNRP request that the U.N. act as mediator in such an investigation.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said the announcement was made to clear up confusion.
“Of course, political parties, the media and civil society have the right to publicize these reports about the polls they have received, but the figures absolutely differ between organizations,” Mr. Nytha said. “So it causes confusion among the public and it causes doubt as to why we have not released an NEC figure yet,” he said.
Asked why the statement did not explicitly refer to Mr. Hun Sen’s recent threat of instability, Mr. Nytha said that he did not want to name anyone directly, adding later, “it’s not the jurisdiction of the NEC to make commentary about this.”
Independent political analyst Chea Vannath said Cambodia is not yet a fully democratic society, “so the way of doing things is different from most other democratic countries.”
“There are always double standards, and that’s why this election is very important,” Ms. Vannath said.
“It’s a wake up call, but the people are aware of the double standard and they don’t want that. I think institutions and politicians need to learn from that a lot. The patronage way of leading the country is not longer applicable in Cambodia,” she said.