Cambodian officials postponed the release Monday of preliminary results from parliamentary elections, raising fears that the overnight delay could allow ballot tampering in favor of strongman Hun Sen.
More than 90 minutes after the results from Sunday's vote were to be announced, election officials told a meeting room packed with party activists, journalists and human rights workers that incomplete documents and communications problems had forced a delay until Tuesday morning."These results are not clear enough to be released," said Samraing Kimsain, spokesman of the National Election Committee, which is dominated by Hun Sen supporters. "We want to wait for more clear information and hope to release the results tomorrow, step by step."
A big victory by Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party could bring a more stable government for the Southeast Asian country. But if the result is not accepted by the opposition or the millions who waited in line to cast ballots, the outcome could be more turmoil for a nation that has suffered 30 years of civil war and the Khmer Rouge genocide of the late 1970s.
The three major parties each claimed sweeping victories throughout the day as members reported results from various locations, but the violence-marred election campaign and Hun Sen's steps to pack key posts with his backers had long raised expectations that the final figures would show victory for his party.
"I think I have to wait for the results, but the delay makes me nervous," said Lu Laysreng, a candidate for the opposition party headed by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who was deposed as co-prime minister by Hun Sen's troops in pitched street battles a year ago.
The other main opposition party leader, former finance minister Sam Rainsy, had said earlier that Hun Sen's party was the clear loser in the election, according to results that his workers had obtained as ballots were counted throughout the day.