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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ruling party's ties with civil servants decried

Ruling party's ties with civil servants decried

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A man votes in nationwide commune elections in Phnom Penh earlier this month. Photograph: Meng Kimlong/Phnom Penh Post

The overtly visible pro-Cambodian People’s Party stance of civil servants and military officials is one of the most widespread and worrying election irregularities, election monitoring organisation Comfrel said yesterday in its final report on the recent June 3 polls.

Comfrel board of directors chairman Thun Saray said that the involvement of civil servants and armed forces personnel in campaigning for the CPP, which scooped up 62 per cent of the commune council vote, has increased and this produced an unfair and nontransparent background to the elections.

“The offering of gifts and money to voters by civil servants and authorities was systematically organised before the election campaign and Comfrel is indignant that, under the Law on Elections, this vote-buying has not been considered a crime,” he said.

Comfrel listed examples in which deputy commander-in-chief of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Meas Sophea and Preah Vihear provincial governor Om Mara led CPP member meetings on May 21.

On June 1, Kep provincial governor Has Sareth participated in CPP propagandising during the commune election campaign, according to Comfrel.

More than 3,000 cases of Election Law irregularities had been observed by Comfrel staff in 13 per cent of the 5,810 polling stations they monitored.

Thun Saray said that while no criminal irregularities had been observed at 87 per cent of polling stations, the pro-CPP presence of law enforcement and civil servants was worrying.

“Moreover, Comfrel found that local authorities were watching too closely and had influence on voters during voting, and these activities caused fear among voters, creating an unreality in the process of the election,” he said.

“But for this election, we have observed that there were some improvements, like no violence, no killing, so this is a very good thing,” Thun Saray added.

Yim Sovann, spokesman for Sam Rainsy Party who participated in the seminar, said these irregularities would never be cured until the structure of the National Election Committee was changed.

“If the NEC does not change, [we] still cannot solve the problem, because the NEC has been used as a tool of the ruling party to steal ballots for the ruling party,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Sokchea at sokchea.meas@phnompenhpost.com

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