Election Neither Free nor Fair: US

For its part, Cambodia’s National Election Committee (NEC) said there had been no particular irregularities during the vote. Photo: Zul Rorvy

PHNOM PENH – The U.S. said Cambodia’s general elections were “neither free nor fair” and decided to respond to it by implementing “a pause of certain foreign assistance programs” and by taking steps to “impose visa restrictions on individuals who undermined democracy.”

The announcement was made by U.S. Department of State’s Spokesperson Matthew Miller on July 23, while Cambodians were casting their vote in the country.

He said Cambodian authorities “engaged in a pattern of threats and harassment against the political opposition, media, and civil society,” ahead of the elections.

“These actions denied the Cambodian people a voice and a choice in determining the future of their country,” the press release stated.

“In response, the United States has taken steps to impose visa restrictions on individuals who undermined democracy and implemented a pause of certain foreign assistance programs,” the State Department added, without specifying which individuals or programs were targeted.

For its part, Cambodia’s National Election Committee (NEC) said there had been no particular irregularities during the vote.

The election’s final results are yet to be published.

But preliminary results, covering 98 percent of the vote, show that Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) came first on the ballot, at 82.3 percent. It is followed by the Funcinpec, led by Prince Norodom Chakravuth, which gathered 9.2 percent of the votes. Invalid ballots came third, with an estimated 5.7 percent of the votes.

Such results should grant the CPP 120 seats in the National Assembly, while Funcinpec has confirmed it won 5 seats.

On his Facebook page, CPP's future PM candidate Hun Manet thanked the “overwhelming number [of voters who] has expressed support for the Cambodian People's Party” and pledged that the party will “continue to serve Cambodia and Cambodian people better and better in the future.”

In recent weeks, signs that he will take over his father’s position, who has ruled the country for 38 years, have multiplied. In an interview with a Chinese TV last week, Hun Sen said Manet could be nominated Prime Minister in “3 to 4 weeks.”

Ahead of this potential shift in power, the U.S. Department of State calls on the CPP’s new government to “improve the country’s international standing, including by restoring genuine multi-party democracy, ending politically motivated trials, reversing convictions of government critics, and allowing independent media outlets to reopen and function without interference.”

“The United States looks forward to a continued partnership with the Cambodian people to support their aspirations for a more prosperous, democratic, and independent country where all voices are heard,” the statement said.

Russian Ambassador to Cambodia Anatoly Borovik tweeted that Russia praised the free and independent election in Cambodia.

“The representatives of the Central Election Commission, the Civic Chamber of Russia and the Embassy have registered no violations at the places observed. Congratulations to Cambodia's democracy!” he tweeted on July 24.


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