Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Just why observers reject commune elections

Just why observers reject commune elections

Just why observers reject commune elections

The leading international election observer group has condemned the February 3 Cambodian

commune elections as "nowhere near world's best practice".

The US-based International Recount Institute called a press conference on February

4 to denounce a series of "inadequacies and irregularities" in the Cambodian

poll. The IRI chief, Mr Bucky "John" Botulism, told reporters, "This

was nothing like the way things should be done - the way we do them."

Mr Botulism objected to the "too hasty" announcement of the winning candidates

in many communes. These declarations, he said, reflected "a simplistic belief

that a candidate has won just because he or she has more votes than the other candidates."

Where would the United States be, he asked, if it declared someone president simply

because he had more votes than his opponent? It sometimes happens that presidents

are elected with considerably fewer than half of the ballots cast. This is considered

a positive advantage, "because it makes it clear to politicians that pleasing

the voters isn't everything".

But even the question of which candidate has received the most votes is not as straightforward

as the Cambodian authorities assume. "A genuine democracy requires checks and

balances, such as a system of judicial review to determine whether the people really

voted the way they intended to vote. Who is more qualified than a judge to decide

whether you meant to vote for Shrub when you ticked Bore's name on the ballot paper?"

Mr Botulism said he found "extremely suspicious" the NEC's figures on voter

turnout. "They're talking about 75 or 80 percent of registered voters casting

ballots. You couldn't get figures like that in the US even if you promised $1,000

to everyone who voted. Americans know better than to believe election promises. If

an American electoral district reports a turnout over 52 percent, we call in the

fraud squad immediately."

The IRI chief condemned alleged political murders and intimidation directed against

the opposition as "embarrassingly amateurish and disorganized. Assassinations

and intimidation should be left in the hands of professionals like the CIA. No one

has questioned that since the Nixon administration."

Finally, it appeared that some of the voters in the commune elections were "ring-ins",

Mr Botulism said. "We have reliable reports that ethnic minorities were allowed

to vote merely because they are Cambodian citizens and even though many of them have

a clearly different appearance from the majority. If they look different from the

majority, of course they're going to vote different from the majority, and that can't

be democratic, can it?

"In Florida, if we had allowed a certain minority to vote, or if we had counted

the ballots of those who voted despite our best efforts, why, Dubbya probably wouldn't

be President today! Think how happy that would make bin Laden!"

He said the IRI would lobby to have the elections denied a certificate of ISO9001

compliance.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the