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NEC Dismisses Vote-Buying Complaint

The National Election Committee said Wednesday a vote-buying complaint by the opposition party against members of the ruling party was invalid, upholding a ruling by a lower committee.

Two Sam Rainsy Party commune council members say they were offered between $800 and $1,000 over the phone in exchange for their votes during May 17 provincial, district and municipal elections.

The NEC said evidence provided was insufficient to support the charge.

More than 11,000 commune council members nationwide voted Sunday for 3,261 national council seats, in an effort to decentralize government and development. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party took 75 percent of the seats, according to initial results.

SRP commune councilors Var Sam and Bun Kheth had accused Ly Raman, adviser for the Ministry of Cults and Religions, and Leng Phaly, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Planning, of a vote-buying.

The case was dismissed by the Phnom Penh Election Committee May 6.

The NEC upheld the decision after May 15 hearing, NEC President Im Suosdey said.

“This decision is publicly tried and declared before the accused and plaintiff,” he said. “The decision is the last decision.”

“The accused, Ly Raman and Leng Phaly, made phone calls to Var Sam and Bun Kheth, speaking of vote-buying,” he said. “It is just a relationship through a phone call. It is not a concrete activity to confirm that vote-selling and vote-buying really happened.”

A CD submitted by the plaintiffs was “not enough” evidence to prove vote-buying took place, he said.

Ly Sovichea, who represented the Sam Rainsy Party, said the CD, along with testimony, should have been enough.

Defense attorney Lin Nhok called the decision “just.”