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European Union poll report dismissed by main election body

European Union poll report dismissed by main election body

The National Election Committee disputes EU claims the July 27 elections failed to meet international standards, demands clarification

The National Election Committee has criticised the EU Election

Observation Mission (EOM)'s preliminary election report, requesting

that the EU clarify its claim that the July 27 poll "[fell] short of a

number of key international standards for democratic elections."

In a nine-page statement issued Wednesday, the NEC said the EOM's July

29 Preliminary Observation Statement created an impression in the

international media that Cambodia's election was "not 'democratic'."

"The headline of the EU EOM Preliminary Statement... clearly implies a

strong and negative statement on the overall 2008 election. Such [an]

assertion should only be made if supported by concrete and specific

references," the statement said, adding that the report "fails to

discuss the shortfall [in] standards" noted by the EU.

The NEC also requested the EU provide "further objective explanations

and ... concrete suggestions related to the missing [democratic]

standards."

The NEC statement disputes EOM reports that nearly 50,000 voters were

mistakenly removed from voter lists, claiming the observers

misinterpreted data from a pre-election audit of the lists.

On the question of the pre-election media environment, the NEC

questioned the EOM's view that there was "unfair and unequal" access to

media in favour of the ruling party.

"The opposition parties were able to freely convey their ideology and

criticism of the government to listeners through Voice of America radio

and Radio Free Asia," the statement said, although it admitted the

issue would have to be "review[ed]" in future.

Tep Nytha, secretary general of the NEC, said that he was confident the

elections were conducted freely. "The NEC followed the regulations in

the Election Law, meaning that the election was free, fair and just,"

he said.

"The EU observers have a right to say the NEC is not up to

international standards, but around 20 international observers were

positive about the election," he added.

The EOM could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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