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NEC Dismisses Vote-Buying as Campaign Ends 

The Phnom Penh Election Committee said Friday it would not pursue allegations of vote-buying by the ruling party, as campaigning ended for district- and provincial-level council elections.

Two commune councilors of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party say they were offered bribes of up to $1,000 to vote for two members of the Cambodian People’s Party, Ly Raman and Leng Phaly, in Sunday’s election.

The committee said it found no evidence money had changed hands and it was dropping the case.

Ly Nhok, a representative for the accused, called the decision “just.”

“This decision is very fair following the procedures and provides much justice for my clients, because the hearings were made in conformity with the law,” he said. “My clients did not commit vote-buying at all, and the plaintiffs had no clear evidence.”

Ly Sovichea, an attorney for the Sam Rainsy Party’s Var Sam and Bun Kheth, said the election committee had not considered the evidence and statements of witnesses. He would appeal to the National Election Committee, he said.

The dismissal came at the end of a 15-day council election campaign period, where three parties hope to earn more than 3,000 seats in provincial, municipal and district councils.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party has around 9,000 commune council voters; the opposition Sam Rainsy Party has more than 2,000; and the party of Prince Norodom Ranariddh has around 400.

“Apart from the 2,660 commune council members from the Sam Rainsy Party, I have met with commune council members from other parties who told me they supported my party’s stand in helping the Cambodian people,” opposition leader Sam Rainsy said. “So they will support Sam Rainsy although they do not show up in public.”

Cheam Yiep, a CPP lawmaker, said the result of the election was obvious, given his party’s overwhelming majority.

Sout Dina, spokesman for the Norodom Ranariddh Party, said he felt optimistic about the result of the election.

“We can’t predict the result, as the voters are free to choose who they like,” he said.

Tep Nitha, secretary general for the National Election Committee, said the four parties campaigned only within their headquarters. No violence occurred during the election campaign, he said.