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Watchdogs accused of conspiring with CNRP

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An has accused two independent election watchdogs of conspiring with the opposition to undermine the election.

Speaking at the Council of Ministers on Monday, An said that the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (Comfrel) and the US-government-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI) had inflated the number of names they claimed were missing from the voter list before the July 28 poll.

“It is a bad trick of the [groups] manipulated by the opposition to question the legitimacy of the election procedure [and] reject the election result,” he said.

“[But] even if the opposition and its allies use every trick there is to destroy the election result, the truth is still the truth, as the National Assembly and the government have been formed [according to the constitution].”

A pre-election NDI voter list audit found that 10.8 per cent of registered voters’ names were missing from the voter list, while a Comfrel audit found a figure of 13.5 per cent.

An internal National Election Committee (NEC) audit later found a similar figure of nine per cent.

An said, however, that the two groups had “conspired” with the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to accuse the NEC of failing to account for nearly two million voters.

He added that Comfrel and NDI also refused to cooperate with the NEC to provide a list of missing voters’ names.

Comfrel director Koul Panha yesterday said that his organisation’s audit was carried out separately to NDI’s and that as it was sample-based it would have been impossible to provide a list of all missing names to the NEC, even if Comfrel’s code of ethics allowed it.

“The NEC says this is a problem, with particular people whose names are missing. [But] we just provide information about the size of the problem and the NEC should continue to investigate by themselves,” he said.

Panha added that the groups were “clearly” independent and called on the government to ask the NEC to release more information so a proper investigation can be conducted.

NDI could not be reached for comment.

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