There was a surprise in the recent elections for provincial/capital and district councils. Not in the conduct of the elections, which were peaceful. Not in the result, the CPP again (as in 2009) winning more than three-fourths of the positions.
The surprise – a big one – was that Sam Rainsy publicly accepted the accuracy of the results announced by the National Election Committee. Can anyone recall such a thing ever having happened before? In every single election post-UNTAC, Rainsy has declared that the results were written by the CPP and read out by the NEC, depriving Rainsy’s party of who knows how many seats and probably outright victory.
Now, with no explanation, the NEC – accused of robbing eight seats from the CNRP (in votes and locations still not yet announced) in last year’s National Assembly elections – has become reliable. Suddenly the NEC, which was so corrupt that the CNRP could not possibly take its NA seats until the NEC was completely overhauled, has become a trustworthy supervisor of Cambodia’s elections.
Does this unexpected change herald further changes? Is it possible that Sam Rainsy will stop contesting Cambodian election results in foreign parliaments? Will he no longer discourage local and foreign witnesses from observing Cambodian elections? Will he stop blaming ethnically Vietnamese Cambodians for the country’s problems?
We can but hope.