The Constitutional Council yesterday rejected the opposition’s request for a recount of ballots in Battambang province, ruling that the National Election Committee had been correct in its decision to throw out the complaint in the first place.
Over the course of a two-hour hearing, Cambodia National Rescue Party representatives made the case that significant irregularities had taken place in 233 Battambang polling stations, while the NEC’s Mean Satik countered that problems with the voter list did not rise to the level of systematic flaws.
After some three hours of deliberation, the council sided with Satik.
“Every decision of the Constitutional Council has an influence on the whole nation. In Battambang there are 35,000 duplicate names. Is this a technical mistake or intentional?” CNRP lawyer Choung Choungy asked the council, before answering his own question. “This is a systematic arrangement.”
Choungy went on to argue that despite the fact that the CNRP had asked for 117 Safety Packages A to be opened and examined, the NEC had examined only eight. Observers at the investigation of the eight packages also reported at the time that polling place documents weren’t cross-checked with those held by parties, even when the tallies differed.
The NEC’s Satik, however, argued that no country is able to totally eradicate duplicate names from its polls.
“We work on technical matters, but this mistake is an individual matter that is punished according to the law,” Satik said.
In the end, noting that Battambang experienced “no force majeure, no violence and no rebellion”, Constitutional Council president Ek Sam Ol announced that “the decision of the National Election Committee dated 19 August 2013 was legal”.
Speaking after the hearing, opposition representative Suon Chamroeun said that “this shows the real stance, that the highest body of law is not neutral or independent”.