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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Council rejects SRP call for ballot recount over lack of evidence

Council rejects SRP call for ballot recount over lack of evidence

Opposition spokesman says council's decision to dismiss evidence of electoral fraud in Svay Rieng province was motivated by politics

WORLD OPINION

International monitors at Cambodia’s July 27 elections said the polls, while not nearly as troubled by violence and fraud as previous votes, still did not meet international standards for transparency and fairness.

CAMBODIA'S Constitutional Council rejected demands by the opposition Sam Rainsy Party for a ballot recount in Svay Rieng province during a three-hour session Tuesday.

Council President Ek Sam Ol said the party had not produced sufficient evidence to warrant a that ballots be tallied again.

SRP representative Meas Kheng filed a complaint with the Council on August 14 alleging voter irregularities in Svay Rieng province and demanding a recount of some 650 ballot boxes.

A previous complaint filed with the National Elections Commission (NEC) over voter irregularities had been previously dismissed.

NEC representative Em Sophath told the council during testimony Tuesday there were no grounds to dispute the Commission's vote tallies and justified the rejection of SRP allegations by saying that supposed evidence of fraud had been manufactured by the party.

He said copies of  vote tally documents submitted by the SRP did not match those submitted to the commission from polling stations and had been handwritten in ink.

During last month's elections, party observers said nothing about irregularities to polling station chiefs, Em Sophath told the council.

It was NEC policy to announce partial election results to demonstrate transparency, and the commission had released vote tallies submitted by commune and provincial election committees, he said.

Meas Kheng made a final plea for the council to open ballot boxes for a recount and claimed the SRP had more than enough evidence to demand a re-vote.

To decide who is right or wrong, all they have to do is open the ballot boxes.

Em Sophath could not be reached for comment following the council's judgement.

Meas Kheng told the Post he was not surprised by the council's decision. "I think it was all political because the council rejected all of the evidence I submitted," he said. "They said my documents were meaningless, but I got them directly from polling officials."

He added that a simple recount would settle the matter. "To decide who is right or wrong, all they have to do is open the ballot boxes. Even recounting just one would do instead of wasting time with the council. I would pay for it myself," Meas Kheng said.

SRP leader Sam Rainsy said the council's judgment was a farce and had been decided long before Tuesday's meeting.

"A recount is the only way to resolve the dispute," he told journalists outside the council on Tuesday. "To eliminate doubt, recount." 

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