Protesters Push EU, US Officials

Student protest leaders met Friday with US Embassy officials and again with the European Union, pushing American diplomats not to recognize the poll and EU officials to change their earlier positive assessment.

The meetings marked the third day of marches by thousands of students through the streets of Phnom Penh. The students took a roundabout route through the city Friday that stopped at the Pshar Thmei, the Russian Market and Japanese and US embassies.

They are protesting the July 26 election, which gave a majority to the CPP. They say judgments by the National Election Committee, which certified the poll, and the Constitutional Council, which rejected complaints, were unfair.

Five students urged US officials not to recognize the election, to continue pressuring Second Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government and to make a judgment not based on reports from either the EU or the NEC. Students also said they discussed the decision of the Con­stitutional Council.

“We absolutely protest the results,” said Keo Hokly, a law student and one of the five in the meeting. “We demand a new election throughout the country. We will not accept Hun Sen as our leader any more.”

The US is expected to issue a statement Thursday about the poll, an embassy representative said. A report from the embassy, which included the meeting with the students, was sent Friday to US President Bill Clinton’s administration, the representative said.

At the EU, students urged a serious investigation before any new statement by the EU and complained about cursory review by Joint International Observer Group members. They had also met with the EU on Thursday.

Sven Linder, the EU spokes­man here, said the EU has not made a final judgment and urged students to wait, adding a new report would criticize the NEC.

On Thursday, Glenys Kinnock, the EU’s special representative for the poll, said in Brussels the international community must offer a “balanced analysis.”

(Reporting by Pin Sisovann, Kimsan Chantara, Kay Kimsong and Chris Seper)



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