The release of preliminary election results Monday was a CPP ploy to have doctored numbers rubber-stamped by the national election body, leaders of Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party said Tuesday.
Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh and opposition leader Sam Rainsy said their parties were forming a “liason” to protest the preliminary results and demand recounts and revotes in several areas of the country.
“These CPP-produced results will most likely be confirmed by the [National Election Committee]. This shows the NEC is just a tool for the CPP to manipulate the vote,” said Sam Rainsy, appearing side by side with Prince Sirivudh at a Hotel Cambodiana news conference.
“You can see there is definitely a deadlock in Cambodia. Two main parties are opposing the CPP. We are now together,” he said.
Stopping short of rejecting the electoral process, Sam Rainsy said it was “anything but free and fair.” A grenade blast outside the royalist headquarters, widespread confusion over voter registration and pre-Election Day vote-buying discredited the elections, both leaders said.
They also charged that commune officials had withheld information from party agents at various counting stations.
“Funcinpec will not accept the results of this irregular and unfair election,” Prince Sirivudh said, adding that complaints will be filed with the NEC.
A joint committee of royalist and opposition party members will consult on any action either party takes in the near future, Prince Sirivudh said. Sam Rainsy said the partnership would last “until democracy prevails.”
Most monitors have said the campaign period and Sunday’s polls were largely free of violence but have not issued final assessments. Official election results are not expected to be released until Aug 8.
“Anybody who is pronouncing on [the elections] is being hasty,” said Antonio de Menezes, spokesman for the European Union observer mission. “That is why we are waiting. The counting is not finished.”
Two local monitoring groups said the polls were “calm and clean” but that voter turnout was a relatively low 80 percent. But both the Neutral, Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections or the Committee for Free and Fair Elections declined to give a summary judgment of the elections.
“We can’t conclude if this election is free and fair or not,” Comfrel first representative Thun Saray said. “We will wait until we receive reports from the provinces.”
NEC officials defended the elections and said complaints by Sam Rainsy and Funcinpec were unfounded. “They have the right to say whatever they want, but the NEC has done its best and complied with the election law. I think that this election is transparent and well,” NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said.
Preliminary results broadcast by state-run TVK Monday afternoon gave the ruling party 73 seats, followed by Funcinpec with 26 votes. The Sam Rainsy Party won 24 seats, according to the report.
The station received broadcast orders from CPP spokesman and Secretary of State for the Ministry of Information Khieu Kanharith, said TVK’s director, Mau Ayuth.
Those results were immediately rejected by Sam Rainsy and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who on Monday called their airing “psychological warfare” against the two parties.
But preliminary results released by Comfrel differed from the CPP’s analysis by only a few seats. In that count, the CPP received sufficient votes for 72 seats, the opposition 26 and Funcinpec 25.
Sam Rainsy Party results gave the opposition 31 seats, while the CPP won 68 and Funcinpec 24. Those results were based on 66 percent of votes counted by opposition party agents.
The NEC planned to offer preliminary results Monday, but late that night the committee had reports from a small percentage of communes. Spokesman Leng Sochea said the delay was due to diligence. “The NEC is usually slow but busy and precise. We’re re-checking each district and each commune, step by step,” he said.
NEC results made available Tuesday showed the ruling party winning about 49 percent of the vote, more than twice the opposition’s 22 percent or Funcinpec’s 20 percent. Those results were based on returns from 1,088 of 1,621 communes.
In none of the available preliminary results does the CPP win the two-thirds of seats needed to rule without a coalition partner, meaning post-election negotiations for a future government could reach a standstill.
Sam Rainsy and the prince have repeatedly stated they would not join a coalition with the CPP in a government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen. The prince this week suggested a tri-party government but did not say who would replace Hun Sen.
Om Yentieng, an adviser to the prime minister, said the CPP remained open to a coalition with either party, despite their leaders’ verbal attacks.
Responding to the prince’s comments that Hun Sen ran the country as a dictator, Om Yentieng said, “The time is over to say that, Your Highness. [The prince] is trampling on the people’s overwhelming decision. It’s like he is trampling on democracy.”
Khieu Kanharith said Prince Ranariddh should examine “how effective he controlled his party.”
“If he is not able to run his party well, then how well could he do running the country?” he asked.
Most results show Funcinpec losing nearly half its representation in the 123-seat National Assembly, raising concerns about the future of the party.
In Kompong Cham province this week, scores of anonymous leaflets demanded that the prince resign. The leaflets bore a Funcinpec letterhead, but the party said in a statement Tuesday that the letters are fake and an attempt to split the royalists.
“There are no members who are unsatisfied with Samdech Krom Preah President [Ranariddh],” the statement said. “On the contrary, all members of Funcinpec respect and admire him and remain loyal.”
(Additional reporting by Lor Chandara)