Plan to Protest Poll Results Draws Threat

A coalition of five lobby groups, all strong supporters of the Sam Rainsy Party, said on Monday it will hold a mass demonstration against the results of the July 27 general election, sparking threats of a crackdown from the CPP-backed Pagoda Boys.

The coalition, called the Cam­bo­­dia Watchdog Council, said in a statement that the election pro­cess was unfair and was marred by vote-buying, intimidation and last-minute changes of polling locations.

“We have prepared to hold a nonviolent demonstration after the election results are formally broadcast,” the group said, add­ing that it urged CPP Prime Min­ister Hun Sen to leave his position in the new government.

The statement was signed by representatives from five associations: The Students’ Movement for Democracy, the Cambodian Independent Teachers Associ­a­tion, the Cambodian Independent Farm­ers Association, the Khmer Democratic Front for Students and Intellectuals, and the Free Trade Union of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

In response, the CPP-supported Pagoda Boys, formally known as the Pagoda’s Children Intelligentsia and Students’ Association, said they would take measures to halt the demonstration if it affected national security.

“We will examine their demonstrations. If the demonstrations affect personal and national interests, we will express our rights as a NGO [to stop those demonstrations],” said Seng Sovanara, president of the association.

In February, the Cambodia Watchdog Council canceled a planned anti-Hun Sen protest after the Pagoda Boys said they would try to stop such a demonstration.

Initial National Election Committee results released on Friday showed the CPP had won the largest number of votes in the country, followed by the Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec in third.

But NEC officials said on Monday they will not declare the formal results until after all election complaints have been reviewed by the Constitutional Council, a process which may take 10 to 20 days.

The NEC last week reviewed appeals over five complaints, which had previously been examined at the provincial election committee level, and upheld the lower level committee’s decisions.

Those decisions included the rejection of a Funcinpec-led case against Hun Sen’s wife and president of the Cambodian Red Cross, Bun Rany. Funcinpec had lodged a complaint in Kampot province against Bun Rany for allegedly making Red Cross donations on behalf of the CPP.

Phalla Keo, director of the NEC legal service department, said all five appeals dealt with complaints involving the campaign period. He added the NEC would review 10 more cases before the end of August.

Those election complaints dealing with recounts and revotes are now being reviewed at the Constitutional Council level, Phalla Keo said.

Meanwhile, NEC officials on Monday also announced that commune election committees across the country will finish their work this week after more than two months on the job.

Committee for Free and Fair Elections director Koul Panha on Monday said the commune officials had failed to be neutral and transparent. He said more than 80 percent of the officials were members of the CPP and were biased to the ruling party.

“Thousands of complaints haven’t been solved because of the CEC,” he said.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha denied the charge, saying there was no evidence that commune committee officials were influenced by the CPP.

 

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