|Heng Chivoan photo|
12 December 2013
Senior government ministers yesterday rejected the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s call for Cambodia to follow the lead of Thailand and take the country back to the polls.
Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said yesterday that there was no chance a new election would be held, as called for by the CNRP during Human Rights Day protests in the capital and Siem Reap on Tuesday.
“I don’t know what to do if they still continue to reject the [election] results, and [I don’t know] what the main reason is for the CNRP calling for a new election given that the entire election procedure was carried out according to the law,” he told reporters yesterday following a government forum on electronic identification.
“It is impossible [to hold a snap election] in Cambodia, because there is no reason and to hold a [re-election] would take at least one or two years,” he said, adding that the ruling party’s door was still open for further political negotiations with the CNRP.
“I don’t know what to do if they continue to protest and contest the result of the election.”
The opposition has called for an independent investigation into election irregularities – which have been documented in numerous reports from election watchdogs – since the July 28 poll.
In recent weeks, they have begun to call for a new election if no investigation is launched.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said yesterday that Prime Minister Hun Sen had more reason to step down than Thai Premier Yingluck Shinawatra.
“Hun Sen was not democratically elected because the last election was hotly disputed and there were many irregularities.… He has a legitimacy problem that Yingluck does not have.
“Secondly, Hun Sen is facing in Cambodia a much more powerful opposition than in Thailand.”
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith told reporters yesterday at Phnom Penh University that the CNRP’s request for a snap poll was “strange”.
“This government is legitimate and is recognised by many countries. It is strange for the loser to call for the winner to step down for a new election,” he said.
“They [the CNRP] have always said that there were serious election irregularities, but there is not yet any evidence.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KEVIN PONNIAH