Cambodia opposition leader asks UN to send "observer" for poll probe

2013-08-08 04:37:03 GMT2013-08-08 12:37:03(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Sam Rainsy, president of the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), asked the United Nations to send "observer" instead of "referee" for a joint investigation into alleged serious irregularities during Cambodia' s July 28 general election.

"I am writing to request that the United Nations, under your leadership, dispatch expert(s) as observer(s) to the process to be undertaken by a joint committee to evaluate the validity of the results of the national election in Cambodia as publicized by the National Election Committee (NEC)," Sam Rainsy said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, which was released to the media by the party's cabinet on Thursday.

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

"The CNRP has seriously and openly rejected and questioned the NEC figures as reflecting a process that does not meet the necessary test of free and fair," Sam Rainsy said in the letter.

"We believe that numerous irregularities in electoral processes produced an outcome that does not properly reflect the will of the people."

On Aug. 3, Sam Rainsy requested the NEC to allow the UN to act as a "referee" in the yet-to-formed joint poll investigation committee, but the NEC rejected the request, explaining that it was against the Cambodian law.

The NEC said it could only allow the establishment of a joint committee comprising representatives of the NEC, the CPP and CNRP, while national, international or UN officials could only be observers.

Tep Nytha, NEC's secretary general, said Thursday that a joint poll probe committee would be established soon now that the CNRP agreed to invite UN official as "observer" instead of "referee."

"We welcome his request to the UN for observer(s). Since the beginning, we have never barred observers from monitoring the poll, " he said. "We hope that the committee will be formed soon."

Sam Rainy's letter to Ban Ki-moon was publicly released after Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni on Wednesday called on the ruling CPP and the opposition CNRP to solve their dispute over the election results peacefully for the sake of the nation.

"For the interest of our country and people, and to maintain national peace and stability, I would like to appeal to the two political parties to continue to discuss each other in order to find a peaceful solution to the conflict or remaining issues," he said in a royal message.

The king also appealed to all people to keep calm, maintain national dignity, and continue to make happy living as usual.

"I would like to urge all people to maintain national unity and solidarity, which are our driving force to overcome every major difficulty," he said.

He also said that the results of the election would be officially released by the NEC between Aug. 14 and Sept. 8.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said last Friday that the new parliament and government would be established on schedule even though the opposition boycotted the first parliamentary session.

"According to the Constitution, a new government will be formed by a 50 percent plus one majority, or 63 lawmakers, in the new National Assembly," said Hun Sen, who has been in power for 28 years.

"I will be the prime minister for the new five-year mandate government," he said.

A new parliament will be convened by the king no later than 60 days after the election, according to the Constitution.

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