Preliminary Results Indicate CPP Majority

Funcinpec’s Prince Norodom Ranariddh and opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Monday they would not join a coalition with Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose ruling CPP won the majority of votes in 23 of 24 provinces and municipalities, based on prelim­inary results.

In an interview Monday eve­ning, Prince Ranariddh called Hun Sen’s premiership “some kind of dictatorship that we cannot accept and that Cambodia should not continue.”

“We have experienced Hun Sen as prime minister for three mandates. He is a man who is not able to keep his promises, run a government or run a country,” he said.

The prince said he hoped for a three-party alliance without Hun Sen, but declined to say who should replace Hun Sen as premier.

Sam Rainsy said by telephone Monday “under no condition” would he join a coalition with Hun Sen and that he was willing to work with the prince to unseat the current prime minister.

“We have a common objective. This country needs a change in leadership…. When you have the same position, you can work together,” Sam Rainsy said.

The CPP strengthened its power in the National Assembly and won more than half of the country’s votes but not enough to gain the two-thirds of seats necessary to rule outside a coalition, according to CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith.

The CPP won 73 seats in the 123-seat Assembly, while Funcin­pec won 26 seats, and Sam Rainsy won 24, Khieu Kanharith said.

The Sam Rainsy Party won half of the capital’s 12 seats, while the CPP kept its four seats and the royalists dropped to only two seats. Phnom Penh’s seats were split evenly between the three parties in 1998. After the 1998 elections, the ruling party held 64 seats, Funcinpec 43 and the Sam Rainsy Party 15. An additional seat was added to the Assembly for this year’s election. Unofficial results from the National Election Committee late Monday showed the CPP winning 53 percent of the vote, Funcinpec 17.6 percent and Sam Rainsy Party claiming 19.7 percent. Those re­sults were based on only 196 of 1,621 communes.

Both the prince and Sam Rainsy called the results fraudulent as they aired on state-run TVK Monday night.

“I cannot accept these results. It is not really conducted in a real democratic process with real transparency,” the prince said in a broadcast on Ta Prohm radio, calling TVK’s airing of the results “a psychological attack on Funcinpec members, as well as the Sam Rainsy Party.”

Preliminary results provided by the Committee for Free and Fair Elections also relied on a small percentage of reporting communes. Official results aren’t likely to be announced until Aug 8.

Hun Sen, who rarely appeared in public during the campaign period, said in a statement Sunday night that the polls marked a “historic day” for the country.

“This election reflected another strong step in the development of a democratic culture in Cambo­dian society, even though the flame of civil war only disappeared about five years ago, and our social cells are fragile,” he said.

Observers in Phnom Penh on Monday said the counting process so far seemed secure. After ballots were collected, boxed and sent to counting stations Sunday, party agents stood guard outside locked doors through the night.

Monitors hunched over desks and leaned through the windows of converted schools, keeping count as NEC officials held each ballot up for review and an­nounced the vote.

“Things look relatively orderly,” said the National Democratic Institute’s Dominic Cardy after touring some of the capital’s counting stations.

At Bactuk Primary School in Phnom Penh’s O’Russei II commune, Prampi Makara district, ballot counters called out the opposition party’s number at double the rate of the CPP’s. Funcinpec lagged far behind in third place, and smaller parties were hardly mentioned. Though his party was taking a beating, Som Vuthy, a 45-year-old Funcinpec agent, said he had been close enough to the process to trust it.

“These election results, I can accept. The voting process and the counting process is transparent,” he said. “No matter what party wins, I can accept it. It’s up to the voter.”

Under heavy security, the ballots were placed into locked boxes late Monday and transported to pro­vincial election committee stations, where the counting will continue.

“This is very important. This means the voter can have confidence in the election results,” said Phok Tuon, the commune election committee chairman of neighboring O’Russei III.

(Additional reporting by Chris Decherd and Wency Leung)


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