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Sunday September 8, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday September 8, 2013 MYT 7:40:51 AM
Sea of humanity: CNRP supporters gathering at Democracy Park in Phnom Penh. — AFP
PHNOM PENH: Thousands of Cambodians, many holding lotus flowers symbolising peace, joined a mass protest in the capital Phnom Penh in a last-ditch bid to challenge Prime Minister Hun Sen’s disputed election win.
Around 20,000 demonstrators, some carrying placards and ribbons with “my vote, my life” written in Khmer, gathered in Democracy Park yesterday to demand a probe into allegations that voter fraud denied the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) victory in July’s election.
The protest, which was one of the largest opposition demonstrations in recent years, comes as final results are expected to end the CNRP’s legal options to overturn the result.
The CNRP has alleged widespread rigging in the election in which Hun Sen’s long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) claimed victory.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy again rejected the polls result yesterday, vowing further peaceful demonstrations unless an independent probe into alleged voter fraud is called.
Opening his address to the colourful rally with a prayer, Rainsy said it was an “historic day” and called for “justice for the voters”.
Rainsy, a French-educated former banker, was excluded from standing in the polls despite a recent pardon for criminal convictions that he maintains were politically motivated.
According to preliminary results from the National Election Committee (NEC), the CPP won 3.2 million votes to the CNRP’s 2.9 million.
The NEC is expected to rule that the CPP won the election when it declares the final results today.
The country’s Constitutional Council said on Friday that it had reviewed the CNRP’s complaints about the polls and had broadly rejected them.
The comments failed to deflate protesters who converged in the capital for several hours yesterday.
“I came to demand justice. Our votes have been stolen ... the victory of the people has been stolen,” said Uy Sarouen, 54, in a frequently heard complaint.
Experts say the opposition’s legal options are running out.
“The chances of the opposition succeeding in its demands are proportional to the number of supporters joining the demonstration,” independent political analyst Lao Mong Hay said before the rally. — AFP
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