Cambodia opposition to hold "prayer" protest over election result

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Monday his Cambodia National Rescue Party will hold a peaceful "prayer" protest on Saturday across the country to underline its claim of fraud and irregularities in last month's parliamentary elections.

Unofficial results announced by the National Election Committee showed that Sam Rainsy's party won 55 seats in the 123-seat National Assembly in the elections held July 28, while the Cambodian People's Party of Prime Minister Hun Sen obtained 68 seats.

The official results will be released by Sunday.

"We will conduct the protest but in the form of prayer," Sam Rainsy told a press conference.

Sam Rainsy said the peaceful protest follows the tradition of non-violence advocated by Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

King Norodom Sihamoni has also urged the nation to stay calm in order to show the dignity of Cambodia and Cambodians, he said.

Sam Rainsy's decision to hold a protest rally in the form of "prayer" has been welcomed by many amid concerns of possible violence.

Phay Siphan, spokesman of the Council of Ministers, said protest through prayer is in the "national interest."

The planned prayer protest will be held at Democracy Park in central Phnom Penh as well as other locations across the nation.

Sam Rainsy urged his party's supporters to bring along candles, incense sticks and flowers to the prayer protest.

The CNRP has pressed for an independent committee to investigate claims of election fraud and irregularities.