Cambodia opposition says poll irregularities worst ever

PHNOM PENH - Cambodia's opposition party alleged widespread irregularities in parliamentary elections Sunday, describing the problems as the worst ever.

"The situation is more serious than at any previous election," Cambodian National Rescue Party spokesman Yim Sovann told AFP.

He said many names had disappeared from the electoral roll while thousands of people could not vote as someone else had already used their ballot.

The ink used for voting was also easily washed off, he added.

Cambodian strongman premier Hun Sen is expected to extend his 28-year rule in the election, which has been marred by the exclusion of the opposition chief Sam Rainsy.

Rainsy returned to Cambodia on July 19 from self-imposed exile after receiving a surprise royal pardon for criminal convictions which he contends were politically motivated.

But he is barred from running as a candidate since the authorities said it was too late to add his name to the electoral register.

The CNRP said earlier that it had uncovered irregularities such as tens of thousands of duplicated voter names that would allow some people to cast ballots twice.

Local poll monitor the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia alleged that up to 1.25 million people who are eligible to cast ballots are not on the voter lists.

The National Election Committee has denied the allegations of irregularities.

"There is no problem of names missing from the lists," NEC secretary general Tep Nytha told AFP.

He accused some opposition supporters of preventing people voting at certain polling stations.