Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cambodia's CPP declares victory in 4th general election

By Xia Lin, Liu Lu, Long Heng

PHNOM PENH, July 27 (Xinhua) -- The major ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) has declared that it took the lead in the polling of the fourth general election of Cambodia Sunday, wining at least two thirds of the 123 seats at the National Assembly, senior CPP officials said.

CPP could take 80 to 89 seats, CPP officials said. Its spokesman Khieu Kanharith also confirmed the ratio.

"We are leading in most of the provinces," said the spokesman.

The major opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) could win around 30seats, CPP sources quoted initial vote count as saying.

However, NGOs and supervising bodies estimated that CPP had over 70 seats and SRP some 50.

Meanwhile, SRP leader Sam Rainsy called for a re-vote in Phnom Penh, saying that 200,000 people there could not vote Sunday after their names were lost from registration lists.

"Neither party won more than two-thirds of the seats," he insisted.

CPP senior member told Xinhua that his party won majority of the votes in Phnom Penh, but he didn't know how many seats were harvested yet.

The national television station TVK, authorized by the National Election Committee (NEC), Sunday night started to broadcast preliminary official results province by province.

At most polling stations in Kaoh Kong province, Pailin municipality and Pursat province, CPP basically shared over 70 percent of the ballots, SRP 15 to 20 percent, and the co-ruling Funcinpec Party and the newly established Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) single digits, according to TVK.

Monday afternoon, NEC will make public overall preliminary official results and final official results will be known about one month later.

CPP victory means that Prime Minister Hun Sen will stay for another five-year term, after being government leader for 23 years.

Sunday morning, Hun Sen and his wife cast their votes at the polling station in the provincial Teacher Training Center near his residence in Takhmao town of Kandal province.

"So far, the atmosphere is good and I hope that today, until the end of the voting and the counting of ballots, the election will go smoothly across the country," the 57-year-old premier told reporters.

He didn't comment anything further inside the polling station, because it was against the election law.

Nget Sovandary, a 39-year-old school teacher, said that she voted for a leader that could make her living standard better.

"The election is very important for me because it provides me with citizen rights to choose a leader that we love," she said.

Chea Savuth, a 43-year-old civil servant, said that he was so happy with voting because "we will choose a leader that will bring the country with peace and economic development."

Official records showed that Cambodian had 11 percent of economic growth on average in the past three years, the highest among Southeast Asian countries. The per capita GDP rose from 448 U.S. dollars in 2005 to 594 U.S. dollars in 2007 and the foreign reserves from 890 million U.S. dollars in 2005 to 1.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2007.

While campaigning during the past month, Hun Sen and his CPP repeatedly cited these positive economic figures and development of infrastructure as the major achievements of his government in order to boost the electoral results.

NEC held a press conference Sunday afternoon, saying that the polling was conducted nationwide smoothly and successfully, as scheduled from 7:00 a.m. local time (0000 GMT) to 3:00 p.m. (0800 GMT).

Some voters went to the polling stations only to find that they were not registered by NEC, which has been the major problem so far in the polling day, said NEC, while not telling their number.

In addition, it rained in Kaoh Kong province and Sihanoukville municipality Sunday, but the weather didn't affect the people who cast their ballots there, NEC officials added.

Altogether 11 political parties are running for the 123 seats at the Cambodian National Assembly. A total of 8,125,529 voters were registered and 17,000 local and international observers watched the polling process, according to NEC figures.

More than 10 million ballot papers have been printed for the nation's 8.1 million eligible voters, with around 32,000 bottles of indelible ink supplied to 15,255 polling stations nationwide, NEC added.





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