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Cambodian Prime Minister looks to make amends with Opposition
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen says he wants to work with Opposition Leader Sam Rainsy to overcome the stalemate over the election result, as Auskar Surbakti reports from Phnom Penh.

Cambodia's prime minister Hun Sen has extended his reign as Asia's longest serving leader, winning another term in government.

But last weekend's election was closely fought, with the country's newly united oppositon bouyed by leader Sam Rainsy's return from exile.

Even though the government lost its two-thirds majority, Mr Rainsy immediately rejected the result saying the vote wasn't fair.

Auskar Surbakti has been covering the election in Phnom Penh, where he filed this report.

AUSKAR SURBAKTI, REPORTER: At this branch of the Cambodian National Rescue Party in downtown Phnom Penh the opposition is recording complaints from people who say they were robbed of the chance to vote.

VOTER 1: I just come here for voting but I don't see my name when I go to vote. So and I just - I try to figure out how to get my name back.

VOTER 2 (translation): I registered my name before but when I went to vote they said my name wasn't on the list. That's why I'm complaining.

AUSKAR SURBAKTI: The CNRP has only begun to formally register complaints but it says it's already received thousands. And it expects to receive many more at similar events in Cambodia's provinces where opposition officials believe most of the voting irregularities took place outside the scrutiny of election monitors and the media.

MU SOCHUA, CNRP POLITICIAN: Those whose names were deleted, who where when they went to the polling station and couldn't find their names. There were some who saw their names the previous night that when they went to the polling station their names disappeared. There were some who came to the polling station and to their surprise there somebody had already voted for them.

AUSKAR SURBAKTI: This exercise is designed to prove the opposition's claims of voting irregularities, which it claims cost the party the election.

(Footage of Sam Rainsy walking through the streets is shown)
The CNRP leader, Sam Rainsy, has rejected the government's claim of a victory of 68 seats to the opposition's 55, calling for an international inquiry into the vote.

(Footage of Hun Sen placing his vote at the election is shown)

The ruling Cambodian People's Party has resisted those calls until now, with prime minister Hun Sen surprising many by agreeing to hold talks with the opposition. He has, in principle, also agreed to an investigation into the vote.

The opposition will continue to register people's complaints both here in Phnom Penh and in the provinces until the 10th August. CNRP officials will then present the findings to the National Electoral Commission in the hope of proving the opposition's claims of widespread electoral fraud.

(Footage of people voting in elections is shown)

The government concedes some irregularities might have taken place but it says they would have occurred unintentionally.

(Footage of Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime, the civil war, and Vietnamese occupation is shown)

This year's vote marks the 20th anniversary of the first Cambodian elections organised by the UN after the fall of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, civil war, and Vietnamese occupation.

The ruling Cambodian People's Party says it's proud of how far the country has progressed in two decades.

PHAY SIPHAN, CAMBODIAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Democracy has moved fast and they still maintain peace, they still maintain their own race and religion to live together. That's wonderful as a turning point of Cambodia.

AUSKAR SURBAKTI: Dr Lao Mong Hay is one of Cambodia's pre-eminent political analysts, having worked abroad. He also lived through rule under the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese occupation.

DR LAO MONG HAY, POLITICAL ANALYST (subtitled): Over the past 20 yeas, there's no law on the statute of judges, which guarantees their independence, which provides their protection, which punishes any people who interfere or use their influence on the judges or the judiciary.

AUSKAR SURBAKTI: Australia played a key part in helping Cambodia develop its democracy, taking a lead role in the UN transitional authority from 1992 to 1993.

(Footage of Justice Michael Kirby speaking is shown)

AUSKAR SURBAKTI: Australia's former High Court judge, Justice Michael Kirby, has also served as UN special representative for Cambodia and an Australia lawyerwise appointed a judge on Cambodia's Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

(Footage of Khmer Rouge Tribunal is shown)

Despite this, Dr Hay says Australia should be doing much more politically.

DR LAO MONG HAY: Australia could discharge more, or honour more forcefully, their international obligations. Basically human rights obligations. That is, that you have Cambodia respect human rights, to help Cambodia to develop democracy.

AUSKAR SURBAKTI: He points to how other international players, such as the European Union and the United States, have effectively put pressure on Hun Sen's government to improve Cambodia's democracy and human rights record.

At least economically progress has been made, but for most international observers much more needs to be done.
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