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Thousands Reject Cambodia’s Election Results

Categories: East Asia, Cambodia, Elections, Governance, Politics, Protest

Thousands joined a protest against voting irregularities in Cambodia. Photo by Kimlong Meng, Copyright @Demotix (9/7/2013 [1]

Thousands joined a protest against voting irregularities in Cambodia. Photo by Kimlong Meng, Copyright @Demotix (9/7/2013)

More than ten thousand people participated [2] in an assembly organized by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to protest the alleged manipulation [3] of electoral results by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

The ruling party won [4] by slim majority after it took 68 seats compared to the opposition’s 55 seats. It was the CPP’s worst [5] electoral performance since 1998 which has been in power in the past three decades.

Casey Nelson shared what he observed [6] during the peaceful assembly last September 7:

The event was very well organized. Bottled water, bread, slogan emblazoned headbands, stickers and lotus flowers were available for all participants. A medical station was set up and medics patrolled the edges of the park. Organizers helped direct and control the crowd. Walking paths and exits were taped off throughout the park.

At least within sight of the demonstration area, police presence [7] was minimal and occupied primarily with traffic control.

Well more than a dozen “Human Rights Observers,” some identifiable by their blue shirts, presumably from the UN, CCHR and other NGOs, roamed around and through the crowds. I also noticed 4 or 5 foreigners in the crowd, participating in the demonstration.

Participants carried lotus flowers [8] and flags and hand-drawn placards repeating the same 5 or 6 themes verbatim, most in both Khmer and English, including: “My Vote, My Life”; “My Vote, My Nation”; “Where is my vote?”; “There is Justice, There is Peace” and “We need an independent truth committee.”

Rally in Phnom Penh's freedom park. Photo by @RupertBAbbott [9]

Rally in Phnom Penh's freedom park. Photo by @RupertBAbbott

OU Ritthy also attended [10] the assembly in Phnom Penh’s freedom park:

I just left Freedom Park. The number of protestors is about 20000- not decreasing but not much increasing either compared to previous mass demonstration.

The space of Freedom Park is NOT fully filled but many other people are standing and sitting on another nearby park, avoiding the given space/blocks at Freedom Park perhaps it is hot or they are NOT the protesters but just people who come to observe.

It is really a peaceful and nonviolent mass demonstration. People are civilized, calm and responsible.

The opposition is calling for the establishment of an independent committee [11] to probe the July 28 National Assembly elections:

We participants in today’s Non-Violent Demonstration have as our goals to render justice to our electorate, to demand the establishment of an independent committee with the participation of national agencies and the United Nations Organization to resolve disputes related to the July 28, 2013 national election irregularities. This committee must impartially investigate the allegations of fraud in order to guarantee the respect of the true will of the Khmer People.

We adhere to the principles of Non-Violence in our activities, our words, our hearts; we do not consider any Khmer as an enemy; we want justice and lasting national reconciliation.

At Khmer Bird, Thomas Mclean interviewed [12] Bun Bunnat, a member of the opposition:

We want these demonstrations to be a lesson to our next generation, that Cambodia demands a free society and a democratic community. We want the international community to pay attention to the human rights violations that are happening in Cambodia. We are Khmer we need to have our own voice.

Here are some observations on Twitter:

Despite the protest, Cambodia’s election body proceeded to announce the official results of the elections confirming the victory of the ruling party. The opposition has rejected [18] the results and vowed to hold more rallies [19] next week. They also plan to boycott [20] the opening session of the Parliament.

Sam Sotha believes that People Power [21] should be advanced through elections and not through the holding of rallies:

Cambodian people do not need “Cambodian Spring!” Cambodia does not need “People Power” through street protests, instead Cambodia needs “People Power” through the ballot box!

Meanwhile, various human rights groups are urging the leaders of the two major political parties to organize a political summit [22] to address the election controversy:

The summit of the leaders of the two political parties and peaceful and successful solution responding to the desire of the people will set a good historical role model for the next generation of Cambodia.