Monday, July 28, 2008

Landslide victory for CPP

The preliminary results from the election is, according to COMFREL (the Committee for free and fair elections in Cambodia):

Cambodian People's Party 58.22%
Sam Rainsy Party 21.85%
Human Rights Party 6.37%
Norodom Ranariddh Party 5.67%
Funcinpec Party 5.04%

These five parties will get seats in the parliament. According to a recently adopted law, a party needs a simple majority to form a government on their own (before they needed two thirds of the votes). This means that CPP now for the first time can form a government without a coalition. The Cambodia Daily reports today that according to CPP calculating they would win 91 of the 123 seats, leaving SRP with 26, HRP with three, NRP with two and Funcinpec with one.

I haven't figure out how this works, I find it more logical that CPP would get 74 seats when they have won 60% of the votes that leads to Assembly seats.

The other parties who took part in the election where League for Democracy Party (1.27% according to COMFREL's preliminary result), Khmer Democratic Party (0.55%), Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party (0.43%), Society of Justice Party (0.23%), Khmer Republican Party (0.20%) and Khmer Anti-Poverty Party (0.16%).

In Svay Rieng where I was observing the election CPP are very popular. In the polling station where I observed the counting after the election was closed, they got 402 of the 505 votes (79.60%). According to Cambodian law the parties are not allowed to transport any voters to the election. CPP arranged transport from Phnom Penh to Svay Rieng for around 7500 voters, around 150 trucks each carrying 50 people arrived on Saturday and Sunday. When we asked the truck drivers about who was paying, most of them said they didn't know, one said "maybe some parties, but I don't know which ones...", one said he didn't want to answer to that question since he did not want to die and one answered "Cambodian People's Party pays. But I am afraid to tell you this." A woman from Svay Rieng, who was working as an election official, said that the village chief from her village had spread the word before the election that people who has relatives in Phnom Penh who are registered to vote in Svay Rieng should tell them that CPP will arrange transport for free.

Another reported problem is voters deleted from the list (wich means they were not able to vote). This has been a problem mainly in the cities and above all in Phnom Penh where Sam Rainsy Party wants a re-election to be held. Cambodia Daily reports that they are worried they have lost as many as 60 000 voters in Phnom Penh because of this. COMFREL said on their press conference this morning that they don't have the exact number of deleted registered voters, but the preliminary approximation is 50 to 60 000 voters in total (all over Cambodia).

Another foreign observer for COMFREL told us during the conference that he had spoken to people who had found their names on the list the day before the election, and then had found them deleted the next day. He had also met people who had their name on the list outside the polling station, but not inside.

On the question if this was a free and fair election COMFREL's president, Thun Saray, answered that it was not free and fair according to "western standards" and that it was too early to say if it was free and fair in "a Cambodian context".

Note: The final results from the election is 90 seats for CPP, 26 for SRP, 3 for Human Rights Party, and 2 seats each for the royalist parties Funcinpec and Norodom Ranariddh Party. (Radio Australia, September 2nd)

Other blogposts (in Swedish) about: , ,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New temple on the World Heritage List escalates border dispute

On July 8th, UNESCO decided to let Preah Vihear temple, near the Thai border, to join Angkor Wat on the World Heritage List. Happy news for Cambodia, everyone talks about it here. One of our friends said she screamed out loud at work when the news reached her.

Many Thai people are not as happy, since this seems to reinforce the 1962 border which puts Preah Vihear in Cambodia. On early morning July 15th three Thai protesters jumped the wire fence at the temple entrance, reports Cambodia Daily. Cambodian authorities detained the protesters, which had more than 100 Thai soldiers to enter Cambodian territory to claim their release. Since then tension has escalated. Both Cambodian and Thai troops have gathered near the temple.

On Cambodian TV there have been shows requesting people to donate money to the soldiers and monks staying by the temple. Last week Cambodia Daily reported that both sides agreed not to send any more troops until Monday's (yesterday's) intergovernmental negotiation. The negotiation seemed to lead nowhere though, which has led to a Cambodian request for a UN intervention, according to Cambodia Daily. Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong will fly to New York this week to personally ask for assistance.

Other blogposts (in Swedish) about: , , ,

Friday, July 18, 2008

Rising rice price a growing problem

The price of rice keeps rising in Cambodia, which makes life harsh for many poor families. Schools which have been able to buy rice for the children thanks to the World Food Program are no longer able to do so, since the rice stocks have run out reports the International Herald Tribune. Cambodia Daily reports that some families have tried to find additional work to get by, and many have been forced to cut down to fever meals per day. 29 year old Ky Kheng from Koh Kong province told Cambodia Daily that her children will have to help with the work and stop going to school if the price keeps going up.

The Cambodia Daily has launched a campaign together with American Assistance for Cambodia and Japan Relief for Cambodia, which aims to carry on the World Food Program feeding programs that has stopped because of the current rice price. For further information, contact Bernard Krisher,

Other blogposts (in Swedish) about: , , ,

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Opposition journalist murdered

Last Friday, July 11, journalist Khim Sambor were shot dead. His 22 year old son was also hit and died in hospital Saturday. The Cambodia Daily reports that Khim was working at Moneaksekar Khmer, a pro Sam Rainsy Party newspaper.

Two days after the shooting the bodies were cremated. The gunmen are still unidentified, and the motive for the murder has yet to be established, but Reporters Without Borders stated Saturday according to Cambodia Daily that Khim Sambor had written about corruption cases allegedly involving high politicians and that the murder could have been political. President of the Cambodian human rights NGO Licadho said to Cambodia Daily that this kind of violence against journalists is a threat to the access to information for the people since the people working with media will be scared and and start to censor their information.

The murder of Khim Sambor is the 12th killing of a journalist since the 1993 general election reports Cambodia Daily. None of this killings has been solved. FBI has offered their help in solving the Khim Sambor case.

Other blogposts (in Swedish) about: , ,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Instructions for COMFREL's foreign volunteer observers

We didn't learn as much as I think we could have on the course Saturday 5, but we did get to know a little bit about what to look for on the election day:

*No weapons or uniforms are alowed on anyone.

*Before the casting of votes starts at 7 am the election official has to show that the ballot box is empty.

*Elderly, handicapped and monks are to vote first.

*The ID of the voter has to be checked before she/he is handed the ballot paper.

*The voters have to stand in line outside the polling office.

*It is not allowed to campaign or say "remember to vote for my party" on the election day or the day before.

* When the polling office closes for voters at 3 pm the ballot papers in the box have to be counted to make sure that they are as many as registered casted votes.

*When the votes are counted, the person who reads them out must show the paper to the observers, party officials and the person who writes the results down. To do this very fast is a violation.

*The person who writes down the results must look at the ballot papers.

The problem we are most likely to observe is that people are not to be find on the list, and therefore not allowed to vote. These people have the right to complain to the National Election Committee, NEC.

David and I are going to observe in Svay Rieng, the poorest province in Cambodia. It will be interesting to see a new part of Cambodia. A part where there is, according to Lonely Planet, literaly nothing do do.

Other blogposts (in Swedish) about: , ,

Friday, July 11, 2008

Amnesty International urges Cambodian parties to stop forced evictions

July 7 Amnesty International released following public statement:

Public Statement
Index number ASA 23/011/2008
7 July 2008

Amnesty International to Cambodia’s political parties: Stop forced evictions

All political parties contesting the 27 July elections should let the voters know how they plan to address forced evictions, Amnesty International said today as election campaigning was well underway ahead of the 27 July poll.

Forced evictions are one of Cambodia’s biggest human rights problems, affecting both urban and rural populations across the country, perpetuating marginalization and deepening poverty. The ongoing election campaign presents an opportunity for Cambodians to hear what their future leaders have to say about their human rights.

The issues of land rights and tenure security have received some attention during the election campaign. Nevertheless, the parties could go further and clarify how they plan to protect the rights of the tens of thousands Cambodian who have been forcibly evicted in recent years and as many as 150,000 Cambodians living at risk of forced eviction.

Amnesty International called on the 11 political parties registered with the National Election Commission to publicly state that they will stop forced evictions and to add the following commitments to their party platforms:

* Stop forced evictions and introduce a moratorium for all mass evictions until legislation and policy is put into place that requires any further evictions to be conducted in full compliance with international human rights laws and standards;

* Ensure that those victimised by forced evictions have access to, at the very least, minimum essential levels of shelter, clean water, sanitation, health services and education, including through the provision of humanitarian assistance where necessary.

* Abide by its obligations under international human rights law to give those affected by eviction an opportunity for genuine participation and consultation.

A forced eviction is ‘the permanent or temporary removal against the will of individuals, families and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection,’ according to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Forced evictions have been recognized by the UN Commission on Human Rights as a gross violation of human rights, and are intrinsically associated with violations of other human rights.

As a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and other international human rights treaties which prohibit forced eviction and related human rights violations, Cambodia has an obligation to stop forced evictions and to protect the population from further forced evictions.

Public Document

Other blogposts (in Swedish) about: , ,

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Khmer Rouge trials continue, so does land dispute and harassment.

It feels good to be back in Cambodia. It doesn't rain much at all considering it is supposed to be in the middle of the rain period now. Phnom Penh looks pretty much the same as last time as was here, 18 months ago. There are no sky scrapers yet, but we've been shown a building site where one is supposed to be built. Phnom Penh Post is still a fortnightly newspaper. The lake Boeng Kak and the people around it is still there, but according to a friend of mine who is living and working in the area, there are pumps installed to drain the lake already, and rumours say the eviction of people and the filling in of the lake is to be started after the election.

Some national news from The Cambodia Daily today, July 1:

The former Khmer Rouge Foreign minister Ieng Sary appeared on court for the first time Monday June 30. The bail hearing was however adjourned shortly after Sary had left the courtroom, complaining of dizziness. Later a doctor testified that the defendant seemed to have liquid in his lungs, and that it might affect the health to continue the proceedings. Ieng Sary's US defense lawyer Michael Karnavas said Sary insisted on his right to be present during trial.

Kheiu Samphan's Cambodian lawyer Say Bory has resigned for an unknown reasons. Samphan's French lawyer Jacques Vergès was unavailable for comment. Following an April hearing when Vergès refused to speak, Say Bory said he had not been informed by Vergès of his intention not to speak.

Oppostion parties complained Monday of campaigning irregularities and, in one case, alleged physical violence.

Chey Szena villagers in the Kampot province complained Monday that they comtinue to be harassed by soldiers, and that they are running low on food. The confrontation between soldiers and villagers began June 21 when Forestry Administration officials told the over 1000 families in Chey Szena that they had to move somewhere else. The village is supposed to turn into a tree nursery. A villager told Cambodian Daily that soldiers had removed her home Sunday and that her family now slept in a field. She also said that the land the soldiers are offering are 30 km away and already owned by other villagers.

Other blogposts (in Swedish) about: , , , ,