Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CPP lead in popular vote slim, say NGOs

CPP lead in popular vote slim, say NGOs

Transparency International Cambodia Executive Director Preap Kol speaks to the press about the preliminary results.
Transparency International Cambodia Executive Director Preap Kol speaks to the press about the preliminary results. Heng Chivoan

CPP lead in popular vote slim, say NGOs

Preliminary returns from Sunday’s commune elections appear to show a tighter popular vote than the breakdown of communes won would seem to suggest, with the CNRP raking in an estimated 45 percent of votes to the CPP’s 48 percent, according to a coalition of NGOs.

Though the figures were based only on a sample of polling stations, the Situation Room an election monitoring group made up of watchdogs and human rights organisations – said in a statement that it believes the projections “are 95 percent accurate”.

The monitors yesterday also announced that they hadn’t found any major issues with the election, tentatively labelling the voting process mostly free and fair, though some observers warned that the smooth process on election day did not reflect the repressive political environment that preceded it.

“Up to now, we haven’t seen any formal complaints regarding the ballot counting, but we have observed some small irregularities,” the press release stated, noting specific instances of monitors being banned from election stations and other issues.

“We cannot judge yet whether it is free and fair until after we have an analysis after the final result,” said Yong Kim Eng, of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace.

Official results will be available no later than June 24.Transparency International Cambodia Director Preap Kol yesterday presented the group’s preliminary findings, gathered from 411 polling stations across all provinces and Phnom Penh.

“There were minor very minor incidents. They were not systematic; they were isolated incidents, and they did not affect the outcome of the election,” Kol said during the presentation.

Kol did say that while the day of the election was mostly free of intimidation, the weeks preceding it created a hostile atmosphere that may leave a stain on the election’s legacy.

“Pressure on CSOs [civil society organisations] and the amendment to the Law on Political Parties, and certain rhetoric, may have had a negative impact on free, fair and just elections,” Kol said, referring to a February change allowing for the disbanding of parties if their leaders have been convicted of a crime.

Naly Pilorge, deputy director of advocacy at Licadho, had stronger words to criticise the proceedings.

“We cannot use ‘free and fair’ to describe any of Cambodia’s elections, as they are riddled with vote buying, threats, attacks and imprisonment of opposition party members . . . [and] government institutions including the military who support and assist the ruling party,” she said.

Speakers discuss the commune elections at a press conference held from the Situation Room yesterday in Phnom Penh
Speakers discuss the commune elections at a press conference held from the Situation Room yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina


Speakers discuss the commune elections at a press conference held from the Situation Room yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Government spokesman Phay Siphan, however, dismissed the criticism, saying that this election proves Cambodia has a thriving, democratic multiparty political system that respects the will of the people.

Siphan also said he was pleased that the CNRP accepted the results of this year’s election, and added that he didn’t expect any protests.

“This election encourages Cambodians that we don’t hold elections to divide ourselves, but to learn from the people,” he said.

The United States Embassy also congratulated the smooth voting yesterday, posting on Facebook that the election was “an important milestone in Cambodia’s continued democratic development”.

Analyst Meas Ny said the smooth process in this election meant that the results this time around could not be refuted as they were in the controversial 2012 and 2013 elections.

“I think that this time the CNRP cannot reject the results of this election,” Ny said.

Despite the somewhat disappointing results, Ny said the CNRP’s almost 500 seats was a good base from which to continue to grow the party.

“When you look at how CNRP emerged in 2013, it was a small tree that could grow quite far . . . CNRP now also has the roots. The future depends on how they take care of the tree,” Ny said.

Nonetheless, he added, referring to the potential for attacks from the government, even a tree must be wary of “lightning”.


  • Joy as Koh Ker Temple registered by UNESCO

    Cambodia's Koh Ker Temple archaeological site has been officially added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 17. The ancient temple, also known as Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, is located in

  • Famed US collector family return artefacts to Cambodia

    In the latest repatriation of ancient artefacts from the US, a total of 33 pieces of Khmer cultural heritage will soon return home, according to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. In a September 12 press statement, it said the US Attorney’s Office for the

  • Cambodia set to celebrate Koh Ker UNESCO listing

    To celebrate the inscription of the Koh Ker archaeological site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Ministry of Cults and Religion has appealed to pagodas and places of worship to celebrate the achievement by ringing bells, shaking rattles and banging gongs on September 20. Venerable

  • Kampot curfew imposed to curb ‘gang’ violence

    Kampot provincial police have announced measures to contain a recent spike in antisocial behaviour by “unruly’ youth. Officials say the province has been plagued by recent violence among so-called “gang members”, who often fight with weapons such as knives and machetes. Several social observers have

  • PM outlines plans to discuss trade, policy during US visit

    Prime Minister Hun Manet is set to meet with senior US officials and business leaders during his upcoming visit to the US for the UN General Assembly (UNGA), scheduled for September 20. While addressing nearly 20,000 workers in Kampong Speu province, Manet said he aims to affirm

  • Manet touches down in Beijing for high-level meetings

    Prime Minister Hun Manet arrived in Beijing on September 14 for his first official visit to China, where he is slated to attend the 20th China-ASEAN Expo and meet other leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping. Upon his arrival, Manet laid a wreath at the Monument