Sam Rainsy Calls Election Results Misleading

While CPP and Funcinpec officials called Sunday’s Senate election a step forward for democracy, op­position leader Sam Rainsy is­sued a statement describing the vote as the echo of the commune elec­tion’s so-called “night of the bark­ing dogs.”

Sam Rainsy alleged that the re­sults of the Senate election reflected not the will of the people, but the continuing impact of vote buying and intimidation that he said oc­­curred in advance of the Febru­ary 2002 commune council elections.

“The night of the barking dogs” re­­fers to the ruckus made by do­m­­estic pets when politicians are said to make stealthy visits to re­mote vil­lages on election eve, of­fering gifts to voters.

“The 2006 senate election results are misleading, with the CPP finally securing 45 senatorial seats out of 61 (74 percent), while the opposition Sam Rainsy Party got only 2 seats (3 percent) even though it col­lected 22 percent of the popular vote in 2003,” Sam Rain­sy wrote in a statement re­ceived Monday, re­ferring to the national election of July 2003.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the ruling party’s latest victory was even stronger than expected, thanks to the CPP’s fiercely loyal su­pporters.

“We have strengthened our mem­­bers long ago, so that they can­not be changed,” he said. “I am proud with the result, but Prime Min­ister Hun Sen told us not to be proud…but to try to serve the people.”

Cheam Yeap said the vote would provide a mandate for CPP sena­tors to address the needs of their constituencies.

“The Senate cannot just ap­prove what the National Assem­bly ap­proves,” he added.

Funcinpec spokesman Chea Chan­boribo said the royalist party, too, is satisfied with the un­official returns, and said they show­ed that Fun­cinpec members who had de­fected to the opposition are now re­turning to the fold.

“We have succeeded in bringing back votes from Sam Rainsy Party that we lost in 2003,” he said. “De­fectors cannot stay with hot water.”

But opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said opposition members are standing by the party, though he added that they are unsettled by the current climate of fear.

He called the election a “wakeup call” for the party, which he said needs to work with its supporters to calm their fears, particularly following the Dec 22 de­famation con­vic­tion in absentia of par­ty leader Sam Rainsy.

“The number of commune coun­cilors that we have around the coun­try that are afraid to vote for their party is only 15 percent, and that is not bad compared to what we have been through,” Son Chhay said.

But the few complaints so far lodged to the National Election Com­­­mittee are related to flawed ballots, not intimidation.

So far, two complaints were re­ported to provincial election com­mittees—one in Kompong

Chhn­ang province and one in Battam­bang province—by Fun­cin­­pec and Sam Rainsy Party members whose ballots were declared void, NEC spokesman Leng Soch­ea said.

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