Cambodian leader Hun Sen's ruling party emerged the winner Wednesday when delayed results from last week's parliamentary election were announced.
The results appeared to be enough to give his Cambodian People's Party a majority in the new 122-seat National Assembly, although an official breakdown of seats was not released pending recounts demanded by opposition groups in some areas.The ruling party won 41 percent of the nearly 5 million valid ballots cast, according to figures released by the National Election Committee. The victory had been anticipated based on partial results over the past week.
Wednesday's announcement did nothing to allay opposition anger over alleged election fraud and irregularities in voting and ballot counting.
Officials were still painstakingly recounting votes from five communities Wednesday, but it was not clear how many others would have their votes counted again. Final results were expected later this month.
The election committee said Prince Norodom Ranariddh's FUNCINPEC party, the top opposition group, took 31 percent of the vote, and its ally, the Sam Rainsy Party, 14 percent. The remainder of the votes were divided among 36 smaller parties, none of which appeared to have enough to win a seat in parliament.
Opposition groups have called on the election committee to recount ballots in some areas and have threatened to boycott the new parliamentary session if their concerns are not met.
A handful of opposition politicians said Wednesday they wanted a total recount.
Without the opposition's attendance, the parliament is unlikely to have the two-thirds of its 122 members needed to conduct any major business.
"They have the right to request the recount of all ballots, but for this we need a lot of time, money, and people," said election committee spokesman Samraing Kamsan.
The election committee, widely seen as being stacked in favor of Hun Sen's party, has come under mounting criticism for its muted response to complaints of irregularities.
The committee's vice chairman, Kassie Neou, asked to resign Tuesday as head of the subcommittee handling recounts.
Kassie Neou, a respected human rights worker considered one of the few independent voices on the committee, said he was frustrated by administrative and management problems, NEC spokesman Samraing Kamsan said.
The election was held one year after Hun Sen ousted Ranariddh as his co-premier in a violent coup.