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Cambodian election council rejects opposition chief's request to run


20:28, July 22, 2013

PHNOM PENH, July 22 (Xinhua) -- The National Election Committee (NEC) on Monday rejected the request of recently-returned opposition leader Sam Rainsy to stand as a parliamentary candidate for the fifth National Assembly elections on July 28.

"After thorough examination and consideration, the NEC cannot add your name to the voters list and the official candidates list based on the electoral law," NEC's chairman Im Suosdey wrote in a letter to Sam Rainsy, explaining that according to the law, voters registration is conducted annually between October and December and Sam Rainsy's request was too late.

Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party ( CNRP), asked the NEC on Sunday to add his name to the voters list and the official parliamentary candidates list for the upcoming polls.

The charismatic opposition leader returned to Cambodia on Friday after nearly four years in self-imposed exile to avoid an 11-year jail term on charges of disinformation and destruction of public property.

His return came after receiving a royal pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen on July 12.

Sam Rainsy was deleted from the voters register in November on the ground that he was a convicted criminal at that time.

Senior lawmaker Cheam Yeap, a central committee member of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), said that Sam Rainsy has no legal chance of being included into the voters list and the candidates list.

He said Sam Rainsy's request can be fulfilled only if King Norodom Sihamoni intervenes.

Sam Rainsy told the U.S.-backed Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Friday that if he is to be barred from contesting the upcoming election, he will not recognize any victory by Prime Minister Hun Sen's CPP in the polls.

"If I can't participate in the election, ... the whole international community will condemn the result and regard this as a sham election," RFA's Khmer Service quoted Sam Rainsy as saying.

Eight political parties are contesting the election with about 9.67 million eligible voters.

The ruling CPP of Prime Minister Hun Sen is widely expected to win overwhelmingly.

In the last election in July 2008, Hun Sen's party won 90 seats in the 123-seat National Assembly, while the opposition group won a total of 29 seats.

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