Cambodia opposition urges king to resolve poll row
File picture shows Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni (C) greets diplomats during a ceremony marking the Independence Day in Phnom Penh on November 9, 2011. Cambodia's opposition party has called on the nation's king to resolve a festering dispute over elections in July which saw strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen retain power.
Preliminary official poll results handed incumbent Hun Sen's long-ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) victory, dismaying the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) who allege massive vote-rigging.
The CNRP, which has so far unsuccessfully demanded an independent probe into the election, has said thousands of its supporters will protest peacefully on Saturday in the one of the largest opposition demonstrations for a decade.
Final poll results are expected to be announced by September 8 after which there will be no further legal challenges available to the CNRP.
With time running out, its leader Sam Rainsy on Monday sent a letter to Cambodia's constitutional monarch King Norodom Sihamoni urging him to step-in and break the political impasse.
"I request your majesty to intervene in order to find a resolution for the irregularities in the election with transparency and justice that the Cambodian people want," Rainsy said in the letter which emerged Wednesday.
Cambodia's king is the official head of state but analysts say the office no longer exercises political power, giving Hun Sen -- who has been in power for nearly three decades -- full control.
The opposition has planned a non-violent protest on Saturday, urging supporters to avoid unleashing "chaos" that could deepen the country's political divide.
Security forces and armoured vehicles have been deployed around the capital since the July 28 poll, in a move the opposition decried as intimidation.
The CNRP has also said it plans to file a criminal lawsuit against election authorities over the vote, which the CPP said it won with 68 seats in the lower house, to the opposition's 55.
The National Election Committee has said Hun Sen's party won 3.2 million votes to the opposition's 2.9 million, although it has yet to reveal the party's share of parliamentary seats.
Hun Sen, 61, who has vowed to rule until he is 74, has said he will form a government despite the opposition's allegations.
A former Khmer Rouge cadre, he defected from the murderous regime and oversaw Cambodia's transformation into one of Southeast Asia's most vibrant economies.
His government is regularly accused of ignoring human rights and suppressing political dissent.
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