Phnom Penh — An estimated 20,000 Cambodian opposition supporters protested in the capital Friday against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s disputed July election win.
The cheering demonstrators gathered in the streets of Phnom Penh with opposition leader Sam Rainsy to demand an independent investigation into alleged vote rigging that extended Hun Sen’s 28 year rule.
Friday’s protest was the last of three consecutive days of demonstrations. They marched to the local offices of the United Nations and to the embassies of several countries, including the United States, China, Britain, France and Australia to urge their intervention in the dispute with the government.
“I hope we will be successful in our demands. We hope these foreign countries will help us to find justice for the stolen votes,” one protester told AFP.
The opposition delivered a petition with two million thumbprints of support to the UN and the embassies accusing the government of failing to investigate election irregularities and of illegally convening parliament with the opposition MPs absent due to boycotting the proceedings, according to reports.
“These steps take Cambodia back to a one-party system of governance,” the petition reads.
Hun Sen has denied the allegations.
The official election results gave the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) 68 seats and the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) 55.
The opposition called parliament’s September approval of a new five-year term for Hun Sen a “constitutional coup”, as the CNRP MPs were absent.
Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said the demonstration “shows the people are not happy” with the CPP.
“Both the opposition and ruling parties should accept the reality and reach a compromise,” he told AFP.
Hun Sen is a 61-year-old former Khmer Rouge cadre who defected and returned to Cambodia with the Vietnamese invasion in 1978 that overthrew the Pol Pot regime.
He has ruled Cambodia for the past 28 years and has vowed to continue until he is 74.