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Election monitors list irregularities

Election monitors list irregularities

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

these findings.

"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.

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