As the National Election Committee laid out its rules for post-election appeals yesterday, the opposition and election monitors slammed the announcement, raising concerns over the brief window in which to file complaints over the preliminary results.
The committee told political parties they would have until 11:30am on July 29 to file a complaint over the early election results, giving them just half a day between when polls close and when the complaint period ends.
Separately, parties will have three days from the time of the incident to file a complaint accusing individuals or parties of malfeasance, NEC official Mean Satik said.
Complaints against election officials could only be appealed as high as the NEC, but complaints against politicians and parties could be appealed all the way to the Constitutional Council if they could not be resolved by the Commune Election Committee (CEC), the provincial election committee (PEC) or the NEC, Satik said.
“The complaints [against results] must be filed at least by 11:30am after Election Day. If the complaint isn’t filed early, it must be presumed that there is no complaint,” Mean Satik said, adding that complaints unresolved by the CEC within two days would proceed to the PEC.
If the PEC failed to resolve the complaint in three days, it would proceed to the NEC.
After complaints have been resolved, he continued, the NEC would declare the temporary results, after which parties can file a fresh round of complaints directly to NEC, which must resolve them in 48 hours or pass them on to the Constitutional Council, which has 72 hours to make a decision.”
Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yem Ponharith characterised the NEC’s procedures as a big mistake, saying the time allotted for filing a complaint “is very short”.
Ponharith also took issue with the NEC being the highest body in determining complaints against election officials, saying the group would be tasked with judging whether its own employees had committed any wrongdoing.
Hang Puthea, executive director of the election monitor NICFEC, agreed that the NEC’s window of time for filing complaints seemed overly brief.
“NEC should leave at least three days for a complainant to lodge a complaint properly,” he said, adding that the Constitutional Council should be the highest body in deciding complaints against election officials.
Meanwhile, the NEC announced yesterday that as of July 27, it had received 256 election-related complaints, mostly relating to the destruction of campaign materials, disruptions and violence.
Of the 256, 146 had been filed by the CNRP, and of those, 140 had been resolved. The CPP had filed 52 complaints, of which 38 had been resolved. The remaining complaints were filed by smaller parties and individuals.
In a report released yesterday, election watchdog Comfrel announced that campaigning irregularities had sky-rocketed over the past few weeks.
Monitors recorded 150 cases that could be characterised as “irregular” last week compared with 60 in the first week of the campaign period, a report released yesterday shows.
Chief among the irregularities uncovered were destruction of campaign materials, intimidation and threats aimed at opposition supporters, and disturbance of campaign activities.
“Although there were problems of increasing irregularities, there were few instances of violence, because the local authorities and the political parties involved in the dispute followed the legal action by submitting complaints to the NEC,” Koul Panha, executive director of Comfrel, said during a briefing. “The irregularities happened because of the lack of independence of the local authorities.”
Forty-five cases reported thus far involved biased officials and interference in campaign activities by local authorities, civil servants and village chiefs. In another 24 cases, civil servants, army and court officials were seen actively campaigning for the ruling party — a violation of the election law.