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Saturday, August 1, 1998 Published at 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Cambodian result delayed

Ballot papers need to be transported to Phnom Penh for verification

The National Election Commission of Cambodia has said it will not be able to publish provisional results of the general election this weekend, as had been expected.

The NEC has delayed the announcement by up to three days because of what is says are transportation problems.

"All provinces are counted, but the ballots now have to be transported [to Phnom Penh] for verification", a spokesman said. He added that full, official preliminary results would be published by 4 August. The voting took place last weekend.

Unofficial results predict coalition

[ image: Hun Sen: wants three-way coalition]
Hun Sen: wants three-way coalition
Unofficial results show that the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) of the incumbent Cambodian leader, Hun Sen, has won most votes - more than 40%. But that would secure only 64 seats in the 122-seat National Assembly, well below the two-thirds majority required to form a government.

Hun Sen said on Saturday that he wanted to form a coalition government with his opposition rivals quickly, and he was confident a compromise could be worked out with them.

[ image: Prince Norodom Ranariddh: coalition talks too early]
Prince Norodom Ranariddh: coalition talks too early
He has proposed a coalition with the Funcinpec party of the ousted leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh, which is expected to be the second largest group, and the Sam Rainsy Party, which is likely to come third.

"We need a new government quickly in order to give time for our monarch to seek medical treatment," Hun Sen told reporters.

King Norodom Sihanouk, who diplomats say is in favour of a three-way coalition, is waiting for a medical check-up in China, but will not leave before appointing a new government, Hun Sen said.

Forming a new government would also mean that Cambodia could regain its UN seat, which has been left vacant since Hun Sen overthrew Prince Ranariddh as his senior co-premier in a bloody coup last year.

"We have to send a delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, so if we establish the government quickly we will also be able to occupy our seat," Hun Sen said.

Negotiations too early

[ image: Sam Rainsy: has met Prince Ranariddh]
Sam Rainsy: has met Prince Ranariddh
But in a statement issued earlier Prince Ranariddh and Mr Rainsy, who met to discuss the outcome of the election, said it was too premature to discuss any power sharing arrangements when the election results had not been finalised.

Both Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy accused the CCP of election fraud, demanding recounts and even new ballots in certain areas.

The opposition leaders have also called for an end to what they called a campaign of intimidation against their activists, many of whom, they said, had witnessed electoral fraud.

They said that opposition activists had been victims of death threats and widespread intimidation since the election, allegations confirmed by the human rights group Amnesty International.

Hun Sen has said he doubts that such a campaign would be under way, but called on members of his party to abide by the law.

"Any acts of intimidation are illegal, immoral and unacceptable," he said.

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