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Monitors say election below par

Sunday’s general election fell short of international standards, EU election observers said Tuesday, questioning the impartiality of the National Election Committee amid accusations that names were intentionally deleted from voter rolls.

“We cannot give a definite answer as to whether the election was really free and fair,” Martin Callanan, chief observer of the EU mission, told reporters.

“There were both good aspects and bad aspects to the electoral process. The overall process was peaceful and well-administered. However, there has been some questioning of the NEC’s impartiality. The NEC was seen to delegate tasks to groups known to be aligned to political parties and organisations.”

“We regret the erosion of public confidence in the electoral process caused by these errors with the voter lists,” said Hang Puthea, president of election monitor Nicfec.

Some 50,000 names appear to have been erased from voter registration lists, Callanan had said, disenfranchising many voters.

But the number of missing names would not likely affect the outcome of the polls, he added, saying deletions “would have had to be on a very large scale order to nullify the election results.”

Callanan said that EU observers saw no evidence of “serious political malpractice”, saying,

“Ultimately it is up to the Cambodian people to accept or reject the results. If there is evidence of serious political malpractice, we haven’t seen it yet."

Other monitors also said the vote was not up to Western standards, even in the absence of the serious violence that has marred past polls.

“If we do say this election was ‘free and fair’, we cannot say it was up to Western standards,” said Thun Saray, a board member of the Cambodian election watchdog Comfrel.

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