CPP Wins 73 Seats in Official Election Returns

The CPP was declared the winner of the July 27 election on Saturday, taking 73 National Assembly seats, according to the National Election Committee.

Funcinpec lost nearly half of its seats and finished with 26 seats, while the Sam Rainsy Party won a total of 24 parliamentarian seats, according to the NEC’s official tallies.

The NEC results are identical to the initial election re­sults, which were announced by CPP spokesman Khieu Kan­ha­rith the day after voters cast their ballots.

“This is the final, formal, national election result—there won’t be any change,” NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said Saturday shortly after the election results were declared.

Tep Nitha added that the NEC’s announcement was also aimed at informing the new parliamentarians to prepare for work.

The official election results brought cheers from CPP officials and, predictably, a small amount of grumbling from members of the Alliance of Democrats.

“We would like to express our profound thanks to the voters who offered justice to the CPP,” Khieu Kanharith, CPP spokes­man and secretary of state for the Ministry of Information, said Sunday. “We won the election because of the CPP’s social development strategy.”

Khieu Kanharith urged Funcin­pec and the Sam Rainsy Party to accept the results because, he said, all election-related complaints had been resolved either by the NEC or the Constitutional Coun­cil.

Last week, the Constitutional Council either dismissed or rejected election-related complaints from Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party, thereby paving the way for the NEC to finalize the election results on Saturday.

“The Sam Rainsy Party does not accept these election results,” opposition party spokesman Ung Bun-Ang said on Sunday. “I think the NEC and the Constitutional Council just followed the Cambodian People’s Party’s political lines and are biased toward the CPP,” he said.

Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou also expressed unhappiness.

“The election results don’t surprise me because the election results were already announced [by the CPP],” he said on Sunday. “The NEC just figured out and imitated the election results announced by the CPP.”

Khieu Kanharith, however, denied that the CPP manipulated the election outcome in any way, saying that CPP agents had worked with election officials to discover the unofficial results before the election counts were made official on Saturday.

The next step is for King Norodom Sihanouk to set a date for parliament to begin work, Khieu Kanharith said.

The CPP’s first candidate for Prey Veng province, 75-year-old Chea Soth, will be the oldest member of the new Assembly. He will preside over the Assembly’s first meeting in which a president, vice presidents and a permanent committee are to be chosen by a two-thirds majority vote.

Under the constitution, the new Assembly must convene 60 days after the elections are held, or on Sept 26. Officials from both Funcinpec and the opposition—acting together in the Alliance of Democrats—have said that they would not join any government with Prime Minister Hun Sen as premier.

Any questions that Hun Sen is considering stepping down as premier, however, were laid to rest on Sunday in Kandal province.

“I would like to send the message to people who support me that Hun Sen will not resign from office and Hun Sen won’t go away from the people,” Hun Sen said in a speech in Ang Snuol district that was broadcast on Bayon Radio. “I will serve again if I am elected in 2008. If I resign, I betray not only the Constitution, but also people’s minds. Hun Sen will not go away.”

The US government, meanwhile, gave a tepid assessment of the elections in a statement on Sunday.

Saying that the elections were “flawed,” the US Embassy also stated that the election was an improvement on previous elections, with fewer incidents of politically motivated violence and more open political debate.

However, the US Embassy also stated that it saw flaws with the NEC.

“The National Election Committee failed to establish a credible process to resolve election complaints, including charges of political intimidation, vote buying and procedural irregularities,” the statement said.

“The lack of an effective review of the complaints and failure to punish violators of election law has reinforced the culture of impunity, which remains a serious obstacle to the establishment of a genuinely democratic system in Cambodia.”

(Additional reporting by Nhem Chea Bunly)

 

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