Power Outage Spurs Concern Of Opposition

Several districts in Phnom Penh intermittently lost power for several hours Monday night as election workers counted ballots, causing concern among opposition party members.

The power outages in sections of Chamkar Mon district, Mean­chey district and Prampi Makara district were caused by a short circuit and broken cables in the electrical grid, said an employee with Electricite du Cambodge, the state-run electricity company.

“This is not so common,” said the EdC dispatch employee, who identified himself only as Seth. “During the rainy season, [blackouts] are more common because the cables and equipment is old and gets wet.”

Tan Kim Vin, managing director of EdC, said Tuesday that “we had some problems” but refused to comment further.

The blackouts, which affected most parts of O’Russei commune in Prampi Makara, lasted about an hour or two before EdC em­ployees fixed the problem. The power failure in Chamkar Mon followed a similar pattern.

The Phnom Penh municipality was alerted of the problem Mon­day night and contacted EdC to take care of the outage, said Mann Chhoeun, Cabinet chief of the city. He said EdC sent a team to fix the broken circuit and pow­er was eventually restored to the affected areas.

He added that Meanchey district along National Route 2 was also hit by the blackout.

Fearful that someone would tamper with their votes during the blackout, Sam Rainsy Party officials sent party members to Veal Vong commune in Prampi Maka­ra to move a ballot box to an area with better—or any—lighting, said Bat Long, public information officer for the Sam Rainsy Party.

“The counting station had six people at it, and they allowed a Sam Rainsy Party official to move the ballot box,” he said. No other ballot boxes were moved by the opposition party.

No official with any party publicly linked the blackouts with the elections or the following day’s ballot-counting.

 

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