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Cambodian opposition calls for inquiry on vote

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia opposition leader Sam Rainsy told thousands of supporters Monday that his party will stage massive protests around the country unless an independent committee begins investigating alleged irregularities in last month’s election.

The rally of more than 10,000 people took place as time is beginning to run out for a compromise over the results of the July 28 polls, which are being challenged by Sam Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party.

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Official results give Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People Party 68 National Assembly seats against 55 for the Cambodia National Rescue Party. Sam Rainsy says his party would have won 63 seats if the election was fair.

The state National Election Committee is expected to ratify the results by Sept. 8. Sam Rainsy said the protests would be held before the ratification unless an independent committee is established to scrutinize the election process.

Hun Sen moved troops and armored vehicles into the capital after the opposition first threatened protests several weeks ago. Hun Sen has been in power for 28 years and shown a heavy hand in dealing with his opponents.

The two parties and the election committee have agreed in principle to set up such a body, but have failed to have a working meeting.

The opposition rally was a test of strength, and a chance for Sam Rainsy to rally his supporters, after not staging a major rally in the capital for almost three weeks.

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