Villagers from Kompong Speu province protested for a second day in front of the Phnom Penh headquarters of ANZ Royal Bank on Wednesday, smearing the building’s exterior with red-painted handprints after the lender once again refused to help them resolve their land dispute with a sugar plantation it helped finance.
Is the royal government of the fifth mandate really illegitimate?
That was the question posed Friday by the Council of Ministers in a 52-minute-long video that accused the opposition party of libel, lauded the virtues of the National Election Committee (NEC) and sought to deflect criticism of the disputed outcome of the July national election.
“Under the management of the National Election Committee, Cambodia held a general election on July 28, 2013, in a free, fair and transparent manner,” the narrator says in the video, which features scenes from election day and excerpts from press conferences given by election officials.
“The NEC did its best to comply with the Constitution and the Law on the Election of Members of the National Assembly as clarified by [NEC Secretary-General] Tep Nytha,” the narrator states.
Accompanying footage shows Mr. Nytha claiming that the NEC was well-prepared for the election and used a voter list that was “generally regarded as higher quality” than that of other countries, though he gives no comparative examples.
Mr. Nytha does, however, concede that it is “not uncommon to have minor breaches of the law” when running elections.
The video, which is posted on the Council’s Press and Quick Reaction Unit’s website, also depicts Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An lambasting the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel), which said in the days leading up to the July vote that the indelible ink used to mark the finger of people who have voted could be washed off using household products and water.
Opposition party supporters in the Council’s video are depicted as hooligans rampaging around Phnom Penh with samurai-style swords and rocks.
To answer the question asked in the title, the narrator says that there has been “no political deadlock or crisis” since polling day.
“Although the National Assembly and Royal Government were legally formed in accordance with the Constitution, the opposition is habitually stubborn; rejecting the election result when they lost and fraudulently misleading the public and disrespecting the Constitution.”
Such protestations were “thwarted and refuted through a roundtable discussion of legal experts,” the narrator states.
“The reality is that the CPP got 3.2 million votes and the CNRP got only 2.9 million votes. As a matter of fact, the result in this mandate was that the CPP won 68 seats and the CNRP only 55 seats. However, the CNRP makes an exaggerated claim that they won 63 seats and sometimes they even said they won 73 or 76 without proof.”
Political analyst Kem Ley said he had not seen the video, but said that the government and the Council of Ministers should focus on investigating the irregularities instead of propagandizing the result.
“If we need to fix all election issues, we need to study the processes of the election since voter registration,” he said. “I think that right now [the government] is illegal. It’s an illegitimate government—even the National Assembly.”
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