The Cambodia National Rescue Party looks set to gain two communes, one in Battambang and another Kampong Thom, after a recount of ballots at the National Election Committee (NEC) yesterday.
The NEC counted ballots in nine out of 16 polling stations from Battambang’s Boeung Pram commune, as well as ballots from a station from Kampong Thom’s Kleng commune. While the ruling CPP had asked for a recount in the former, the opposition filed the request contesting the Kleng result.
The day started with Boeung Pram commune, with proceedings decidedly less hostile than the recount for Svay Rieng’s Doung commune, which took place on Monday. Observers from both parties and election officials crowded around tables in two separate rooms as the counting officer proceeded to tally the ballots.
While preliminary election results leaned in the CPP’s favour, 631 votes to the CNRP’s 608, a recount at the provincial level reversed the results putting the CNRP ahead with 771 to 704 ballots.
Yesterday’s recount ended with the CNRP ahead at 776 and CPP at 707, handing the commune chief position to the CNRP.
The CPP proceeded to ask the nine-member NEC to deliberate on the validity of 10 disputed ballots, but CNRP official Suon Chamreoun said the 10 ballots would not affect the final results.
Following the Boeung Pram count, officials and party members shifted focus to the one polling station up for recount in Kleng commune. While the recount proceeded smoothly, things quickly got contentious as the tally started to narrow.
The initial count on June 4 gave the CPP a slim one-ballot lead – 832-831 – the result remained unchanged when challenged by the CNRP at the provincial level.
The polling station recounted by the NEC yesterday, however, brought the total commune tally to 837 to 835 in the CNRP’s favour. Upon hearing the result, CPP officials started to file complaints over the validity of votes, leading to the CNRP filing its own complaints.
However, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said the body had decided on all the complaints and the result stood as is. “The result is final that the CNRP has won both of the communes,” he said last evening.
Puthea said the NEC had dealt with 26 of the 49 complaints it had received. “But not all are recounts, and some complaints have been rejected,” he said.
Meng Sopheary, the CNRP’s head of election affairs, said the body needed to reform the procedures for deeming a ballot invalid, saying the will of the voter should be respected.
While the CNRP had filed 32 complaints, Sopheary said the election body should investigate Phnom Penh’s Orussey 4 commune, where there were more ballots in the boxes than actual voters, and a village chief had been assigned as election observer.