Cambodian royalist parties recognize poll results

August 13, 2008 at 3:55 am Leave a comment

The Associated Press – August 12, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Cambodian royalist parties announced Tuesday they would recognize the results of last month’s national election, in which they were soundly defeated by their arch opponent, Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The parties had earlier joined the main opposition group, the Sam Rainsy Party, in rejecting the poll’s results as illegitimate.

The self-named party of exiled Prince Norodom Ranariddh – who is in exile – had with Sam Rainsy’s group condemned the July 27 election as rigged in favor of Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

But in a statement Tuesday, Prince Ranariddh distanced himself from his opposition ally and said the election was held in a “transparent, free, fair and democratic manner.” He said he recognized the preliminary results announced by the National Election Committee last week.

The Funcinpec party that Ranariddh once led also said in a separate statement that it accepts the results despite some voting irregularities.

Analysts said they suspected that Ranariddh’s about-face could be part of a deal with the ruling party to help pave the way for the prince to return to Cambodia.

This is only a strategy to allow Ranariddh to return to the country,” said Hang Puthea, director of the election monitoring group Nicfec.

Ranariddh, now staying in Malaysia, is facing an 18-month prison sentence after Cambodia’s Supreme Court late last month upheld a lower court’s conviction against him in an embezzlement lawsuit filed by his former Funcinpec colleagues.

Cambodian judicial system is known for being corrupt and susceptible to political pressure from the government.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith welcomed Ranariddh’s new stance but denied any deal with the prince.

The election organizers said Hun Sen’s ruling party received some 58 percent of the more than 6 million votes cast, confirming its projected landslide victory.

It said the runner-up Sam Rainsy Party trailed with about 22 percent, followed by the Human Rights Party with 6.6 percent, Ranariddh’s party with 5.6 percent and Funcinpec with 5 percent.

It did not yet give the allocation of seats in the 123-seat National Assembly, but Hun Sen’s party has said it will get 90 seats.

The Sam Rainsy Party, which has been projected to get 26 seats, continued to reject the results due to “massive fraud.”

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Entry filed under: Election, Politics. Tags: , , , , , .

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