Thousands of Cambodians and Cambodian-Americans staged coordinated mass demonstrations in cities across the U.S. on Monday in support of opposition claims that Cambodia’s closely contested July election was rigged in favor of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his long-ruling CPP.
Preliminary results show the CPP winning 68 seats to the CNRP’s 55, but the opposition says the election was mired in fraud and also claims to have won the ballot. They have called for an independent investigation into irregularities.
In Long Beach and San Francisco, California, and in Seattle, Washington, hundreds from Cambodia’s diaspora turned out for demonstrations, while in New York about 1,500 people convened outside U.N. headquarters, calling on the body to demand an independent investigation into irregularities.
“Cambodians in America want the same thing as they do in Cambodia,” said CNRP president Sam Rainsy, who returned Friday from the U.S. where he had attended his daughter’s wedding.
“It is very simple: They want to expose the truth that the CPP is concealing. They are demanding that we find a way to resolve the situation and investigate the irregularities and that the NEC [National Election Committee] releases all the documents,” he said.
Videos on YouTube on Tuesday showed protesters at the rallies carrying placards and banners calling for “the Cambodian government to respect the Paris Peace Accord,” and asserting that “Hun Sen must go.”
Now that election monitors such as the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia and the National Democratic Institute have cited serious irregularities, opposition activists in the U.S. are determined to add their voice to the outcry.
At the demonstration in Long Beach, one former CPP member had no doubt about the proper solution to the current political standoff.
“The National Election Committee is comprised of people in the ruling party. This is a very serious issue that needs transparency and a fair investigation not conducted by the National Election Committee,” So Naro, a former personal assistant to Prime Minister Hun Sen, was quoted as saying by local newspaper Press-Telegram.