Cambodian opposition stages nonviolent mass protest over election results

PHNOM PENH, (PNA/Xinhua) — At least 20,000 opposition supporters staged a mass rally at the capital’s Freedom Park on Saturday morning to protest against the results of the July 28 election in which Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party won a majority of vote.

The peaceful demonstration, organized by the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) of long-time opposition leader Sam Rainsy, came a day prior to the official release of the final election results.

Initial election results showed that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen won the poll with 68 of the 123 parliamentary seats, and the CNRP took the remaining 55 seats.

But the CNRP rejected the results, claiming that it should win 63 seats, with the CPP getting the remaining 60 seats if alleged poll irregularities were fairly resolved.

Some of protestors held lotus buds, incense sticks and candles, and others carried posters or banners, demanding the establishment of an independent investigation committee to look into alleged poll irregularities as well as justice during the election.

Buddhist monks were invited to chant for justice and peace at the event.

Addressing the rally, Sam Rainsy said that the nonviolent protest was to demand the formation of an independent poll irregularity investigation committee. “We will not recognize the election results if an independent committee is not formed to investigate alleged poll irregularities, “he said.”We are seeking justice for vote owners. No justice, no peace.”

Mu Sochua, CNRP’s senior official, said the protest started at 7 a.m. and would end at 12 p.m. at noon.

Security forces are deployed around the park to ensure security and public order.

Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, said Friday that tens of thousands of security forces would be used to ensure security and public order around the city.

“Peaceful demonstration will be protected. But if they incite violence, they will face crackdowns,”he told Xinhua.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said that a new parliament and a new government would be established as scheduled despite the opposition’s boycott.

According to the constitution, a new government would be formed by a 50 percent plus one majority, or 63 lawmakers, in the new parliament.

Hun Sen, 61, who has been in power for 28 years, will rule the country for another five years through the election victory.

Under the country’s constitution, a new parliament will be inaugurated no later than 60 days after the election.