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CPP Denies Rigging Voter Lists

A ruling Cambodian People's Party leader Thursday denied allegations that provincial party members were rigging voter lists ahead of next year's national elections.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy charged Wednesday that CPP commune leaders were erasing thousands of names from voter registration lists under the pretext of cleaning them up.

"I would like to deny that allegation," said Heng Samrin, honorary CPP president and head of the National Assembly. "It's not acceptable."

Each party was striving to win the national elections, he said, but there was no fraud involved in CPP activities.

Sam Rainsy claims that as many as 550,000 names could potentially be swiped from voter registration lists in the provinces, for reasons as simple as a voter leaving town on business.

With such deletions, the CPP would easily win the national election, he said Wednesday.

Tep Nitha, secretary-general of the National Election Committee, said his agency had instructed commune chiefs to clean up the lists before Sept. 15, but that potential voters will be able to check those lists until October to ensure their names are still there.

But this approach puts an undue burden on people who are short on free time for such things, Sam Rainsy said.

Koul Panha, director of the independent Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said local officials were often careless of NEC's requests or used their influence to convince people to join the CPP. Cases where voters were taken off lists had been observed in Kampong Cham, Pursat, Siem Reap and Banthey Meanchey provinces, he said.

For example, citizens who left Cambodia to temporarily work in Thailand returned to find themselves no longer eligible to vote, Kuol Panha said.