CNRP president Sam Rainsy returned Friday to Cambodia from an 11-day trip to the U.S. and accused the ruling party of cowardice and of stealing the July 28 national election from his party.
A few hundred supporters lined the boulevard outside the VIP terminal at the Phnom Penh airport to welcome Mr. Rainsy back from his visit, during which he attended his daughter’s wedding and met with senior officials from the U.N. Department of Political Affairs in New York.
Mr. Rainsy was surrounded as he made his way in the direction of Phnom Penh initially on foot to greet supporters, which caused traffic jams on the road as people stood and shouted for change, holding up seven fingers to mark the party’s ballot number. He then made his way by car to the CNRP offices in Chak Angre Krom commune.
“They prevented the Cambodian people’s victory that the CPP robbed from us,” he said as he left the gate. “We must prepare every measure and initiate everything to demand justice for Cambodian people,” he added.
In a speech delivered from atop a table to about 200 people outside the party offices, Mr. Rainsy alluded to the meetings he had with U.N. officials and NGO representatives, and said that “they saw very clearly that the CNRP won with a majority, so why did the other party dare to say that it won? No one believes it.”
He said that the ruling CPP—which is claiming 68 seats—and the National Election Committee [NEC], which is stacked with CPP-affiliated staff, colluded to steal 1.3 million voter names from the CNRP.
“According to preliminary figures, the NEC and CPP announced that they got 3.2 million votes and the CNRP got 2.9 million,” he said, claiming that 1 million “ghost” names on the list were also used to bolster the number of votes that went to the CPP.
In Mr. Rainsy’s absence, the government has begun flexing its military muscle, deploying armored personnel carriers to the outskirts of Phnom Penh and stockpiling razor-wire barricades. The show of strength, officials said, is part of efforts to prepare for demonstrations over the outcome of the election.
“The CPP is very cowardly—it lost the election already, but now they are taking the armed forces to threaten the Cambodian people- it is very cheap and cowardly,” Mr. Rainsy said.
“The armed forces within armored personnel carriers should be taken to the Thai and Vietnamese borders to protect us, because Thailand and Vietnam intend to steal Cambodian land; no one should use armed forces and armored personnel carriers to scare our people in central Phnom Penh—it is wrong.”
The CNRP has said since the election that peaceful demonstrations would be a last resort, and on Thursday, the party’s deputy president, Kem Sokha said the party is ready to call mass rallies and boycott the National Assembly.
On Friday, Mr. Rainsy alluded to this but gave no specific date.
“I inform all the people that starting from now, we will hold many events step by step to secure our victory and to rescue our nation, because the Cambodian people absolutely demand change,” he said.
Speaking at the airport, 40-year-old Seng Kimsrun said she is ready and willing to lay down her life for the party if there is a militaristic response from the government to demonstrations.
“I can not accept [the result]—if there is a demonstration, I will join it. I am not scared and I will put my life down,” she said.
(Additional reporting by Lauren Crothers)