Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cambodia braces for another round of political protests over disputed polls

Phnom Penh is bracing for yet another round of political protests, with 10,000 people set to rally over the next three days against alleged voting irregularities in July's general election.

Security forces have begun demonstrating crowd control measures in Phnom Penh's Freedom Park, which is the site of upcoming anti-government protests.

Local media estimated that 10,000 to 20,000 people will rally there in coming days.

They want to show support for the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) and its leader Sam Rainsy.

He is calling for an independent investigation into the July vote where his party won 55 seats according to the official results.

The CNRP's own total vote was 63 seats, giving it a slight edge in the National Assembly over Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People’s Party.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said: "There are widespread evidence from independent observers, (and ) both national and international independent organisations have pointed to countless and serious election irregularities that might have distorted or even overturned the will of the Cambodian people."

Mr Hun Sen said that an independent agency is not needed to verify election results.

And the government in a White Paper published soon after the election said there is no evidence to back the opposition's claims.

An earlier protest in September turned violent when soldiers clashed with demonstrators causing one death and several injuries.

And despite various government attempts to rein in these protests--like limiting the duration and the number of people in the rally -- Mr Sam Rainsy has said they will ignore these requests.

For the moment, politics here remain in a deadlock---the opposition is boycotting the National Assembly until the issue of vote fraud is satisfactorily resolved. - Channel News Asia

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