PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian election officials said they will release complete general election results on Saturday and ratify them as official four days later if there are no complaints from the contending political parties.
The announcement Monday by National Election Committee Secretary-General Tep Nytha does nothing to settle the opposing claims of the ruling Cambodian People's Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to having won the July 28 polls.
The opposition also says that there were irregularities in voter registrations that could have deprived more than 1 million people of their right to vote.
Election committee Secretary-General Tep Nytha said Monday that if the results are challenged, the final official tally will be issued Sept. 8.
The prospect that the losing side will not peacefully accept the results, reflected in rumors that protests will greet Saturday's announcement, has rattled some Cambodians who recall violence breaking out in the capital Phnom Penh in the wake of previous elections.
Provisional results released by the government-appointed election committee favor the ruling party's claim, and long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen has said he will take office again if those results stand.
The ruling party's projections give it 68 seats in the new 123-seat National Assembly, against 55 for the opposition. The opposition says it won 63 seats. Both forecasts show a substantial gain from the 29 seats the opposition had in the last assembly.
Tep Nytha said the election committee was awaiting word from the opposition party on whether it will take part with the ruling party and the committee in an independent body to probe complaints into possible election irregularities.
The two parties reached preliminary agreement to set up such a body, but the opposition party boycotted its planned first meeting on Sunday, seeking to have representatives from the U.N. and civil society as members rather than just observers.
If the special committee is not formed, Tep Nytha said, the existing committee will use established procedures to investigate complaints. He said that more than 300 complaints had filed by political parties during the campaign, and 125 were filed on election day and during ballot counting, with some already resolved.
Civil society groups issued a joint statement Monday saying they were deeply concerned about allegations of intimidation, reprisals and threats against some voters. It singled out local authorities for allegedly threatening people who did not vote for the ruling Cambodian People's Party.