Cambodia's election monitoring organizations (EMOs) are pushing the government and
the National Election Committee to investigate numerous allegations of irregularities
during the commune elections.
The EMOs - Comfrel, Nicfec and Coffel - issued a joint statement February 12
saying the result of the election was acceptable, but not free, fair and just. They
said they had found several hundred cases of irregularities, including fraud, vote
buying, threats, intimidation and technical irregularities.
"We urge the government to take action to investigate the cases and bring the
offenders to court," said Sok Sam Oeun, director of Comfrel.
However the NEC media chairman said the allegations were groundless and dismissed
the EMOs' report as biased.
"If they have evidence for irregularities, then they should take that evidence
to the court," said media chairman Prom Nhean Vicheth. "This report could
affect the honor of the country. The allegations are not confirmed."
He said, however, that the NEC had responded to "some specific complaints"
in Kampong Speu February 12.
Among the EMOs findings:
- 128 cases of illegal activities were carried out by the CPP during the campaigns.
"The campaigns were conducted by using types of vote buying, both indirect (whole
communities are given donations and gifts) and direct (individuals are given money
for votes)" read the statement.
- 105 cases of intimidation and threats on voters carried out by local authorities.
"Some civilians came with guns and uniforms ... Although most of these threats
were verbal in nature, it created an insecure and menacing environment for the voters."
- 560 cases of technical irregularities, including ballot boxes not present and
confusion of official seals.
- 320 cases where the rights of voters were obstructed.
- 20 cases where explosives and guns were taken into ballot-counting stations,
or there was use of threats or intimidation.
- 76 cases where ballots were not dealt with in an orderly fashion, not shown to
observers or party agents.
- 57 cases of fraud on ballot counting. "For instance, in Romchor commune,
Ratanakkiri, the CEC chairman added more ballots while counting."
In a separate statement February 10, the NGO Coordinating Committee (NGO CC) echoed
"We found that there was one political party which intimidated people through
collecting voter registration [cards] for recording the number, and some cards were
bought," said the statement.
It reported that during the polling day, some village and commune leaders waited
near the stations telling voters: "Don't forget to vote for our party".
Nhem Vanthorn, who is a member of NGO CC, told the Post February 11 his committee
had witnessed 20 cases of irregularities in Phnom Penh, Kandal and Kampong Speu.
He said most irregularities were carried out by the local authorities.
He referred to one incident in which a woman at a Svay Pak polling station in the
capital's Russey Keo district was not allowed to vote after her name was crossed
off the voters' list with a red pen. When she queried that, the polling booth director
said he had received an order from the top level, said Vanthorn.
"She told me that the ruling party had bought votes from all members of her
family," said Vanthorn. "She said she was the only person in her family
whose conscience the ruling party could not buy."
In another case 16 Vietnamese boat people who registered last year were ruled ineligible
by the NEC after complaints were made to the body that they had no right to vote.
However, said Vanthorn, some still came to vote at a polling station in Kean Kleang,
Russey Keo district.
Comfrel's executive director, Panha Koul, had noted that none of the Commune Election
Commissions, Provincial Election Commissions or the NEC itself had taken any action
to punish offenders.