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National Election Committee Receives Reports on Irregularities

  • Heng Reaksmey

National Election Committee and diplomats to Cambodia

National Election Committee and diplomats to Cambodia

PHNOM PENH - The National Election Committee on Wednesday received more than 10 reports documenting irregularities in last month’s national elections.

International and local rights groups and observers have called for further investigation into the allegations of irregularities, which have damaged the legitimacy of the process and set up a potential stalemate for the formation of a government.

Election officials say they will investigate the information in the reports, which were filed by representatives of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and the royalist Funcinpec, as well as local officials at various polling sites.

The NEC has established a commission to deal with the complaints.

Opposition officials say they have received more than 10,000 separate complaints from supporters.

“We urge a peaceful resolution at the negotiation table,” Yim Sovann, spokesman for the Rescue Party, told VOA Khmer Wednesday. “Anything can be worked out so long as there are good intentions and political will that reflect our people’s will. We are making a great effort to avoid mass protests.”

Tep Nitha, secretary-general for the NEC, which is widely viewed as biased toward the ruling CPP, said the election body will address the complaints “with neutrality.”

“We have not made any decision yet,” Tep Nitha said. “The commission will see how the issues raised should be addressed and next will submit them to the NEC. The NEC will then decide on how to proceed.”

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Tuesday that he will not accept the results of the election, and that a UN-supported investigation into irregularities is needed.

Sam Rainsy has said that the Rescue Party would have won in a legitimate election and he called on his supporters to join in mass demonstrations if the results stand without an investigation.

Meanwhile, Cambodian election monitors say the National Election Committee has denied them access to key documents that would help them independently evaluate election complaints.

Monitors say the National Election Committee has not allowed them to inspect the national voter registry, the record of polling information at polling stations, or the registered list of voter ID cards—all of which stand at the center of the complaints.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party has been accused of manipulating the registry and voter IDs for a more favorable election outcome, a claim senior officials deny.

CPP officials say they won the election, with 68 of 123 National Assembly seats, leaving the remaining 55 for the opposition. The Rescue Party says its own numbers show them with 63 seats, enough to win majority control of the National Assembly.

A boycott of the opening session of the National Assembly by newly elected representatives from the opposition party could prevent the legal formation of a Cambodian government in months to come.

Tep Nitha said the NEC is responding properly to the election complaints. He said the NEC has not “denied” providing the documents to election monitors.

“But the time is not favorable for us to do so, as we have to spend a lot of time on it,” he said. He called the request by the monitors a “sideline story,” from groups whose job was to watch over the election itself.

Election monitors do not see it this way.

Hang Puthea, head of the election watchdog Nicfec, told VOA Khmer that civil society groups need to review the voter lists, registries and polling station information to determine whether election allegations are true.

And Koul Panha, who heads the election-monitoring group Comfrel, said outside organizations can help the NEC define the seriousness of the accusations.

“If we do this properly, it will help solve the issues of the election result problem, and make all sides have trust, as well as the voters,” he said. “It’s only a transparent investigation that will improve confidence, so that everyone is not turning to the use of political force,” or demonstrations, he said.
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