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EU prefers long-term election evaluation

EU prefers long-term election evaluation

EUROPEAN Union Special Representative Glenys Kinnock flew in the face of many of

her fellow diplomats July 29 with a guarded and conditional statement of support

for Election '98.

Kinnock talked down some of the most bullish advocates of the "free and fair"

school - including the ambassadors of France, Germany, the UK and her own EU ambassador

- to push her views through as representative of the EU.

Kinnock conceded the difficulty of achieving consensus among 15 EU members, saying

she hadn't wanted to make a public statement on the process until she had "consulted

widely" and been properly debriefed.

Her statement "represented what I had prepared myself".

Though not overtly critical of the JIOG statement - made on the night following polling

- that the election was "free and fair", Kinnock said she thought herself

"fortunate" to have had more time to prepare her views.

Kinnock said the international community "should only make its final position

when the entire election process is completed".

She also pledged to extend the mandate of EU electoral observers until September

"to cover any recounting which may be necessary".

She said because the elections were "unprecedented in the history of Cambodia",

all comparisons were "inappropriate".

Her own ambassador, Sven Linder, had only two days before pronounced this year's

election as more favorable than the UNTAC elections of 1993.

The electoral process was more difficult in remote rural areas than in Phnom Penh,

Kinnock said.

Where Linder and other ambassadors had previously quashed a JIOG observer report

for, among other things, including UN information on human rights abuses, Kinnock

said: "It would be unacceptable to ignore United Nations' evidence of intimidation

and other acts of violence in the run up to polling...

"Final definitive positions on the electoral process must only be taken after

the current serious [ballot counting] concerns have been addressed and resolved,"

she said.

Kinnock demurred on the question whether she might have any role in persuading JIOG

to change its view that the election was free, fair and credible.

"I have to leave tomorrow [July 30]," she said, "so my powers of persuasion

will not be there."

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