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NEC says civil servant did not illegally campaign

NEC says civil servant did not illegally campaign

The National Election Committee has rejected a complaint filed against Pen Siman, director-general of the General Department of Customs and Excise, for allegedly using state time to campaign for the Cambodian People’s Party before the recent commune elections.

The complaint, by opposition Sam Rainsy Party legislator Chea Poch, alleges Pen Siman went to Tany commune, in Kampot, on May 30 to tout CPP leaders Chea Sim, Heng Samrin and Hun Sen’s record on prosperity and development.

It alleged Pen Siman met with about 200 teachers there to solicit support for the CPP.

Election law forbids civil servants campaigning for any political party during work hours or using their official titles to do so.

But NEC general secretary Tep Nytha said yesterday Pen Siman had applied for permission to take the trip.

“We saw all documents. Pen Siman sent documents asking for leave from his ministry from May 28 to 30,” he said. “Thus, the NEC decided to uphold the decision of the province’s NEC and reject the complaint.”

An SRP statement called the ruling an “unacceptable and unjust decision”.

Chea Poch, whose previous complaints were dismissed by the commune election Committee and the provincial election committee last month, may be out of options.

According to the election law, the buck stops at the NEC. Having reached that level, the complaint is now closed.

Tep Nytha said the NEC was sifting through 30 complaints and expected decisions on all of them by June 24.

Koul Pahna, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said yesterday the NEC’s method of resolving complaints was limited in scope and there were no “reliable, firm and clear mechanisms” in place.

He said a separate organisation should be set up with the sole mandate to field all electoral complaints.

“We should amend election law and organise a professional, independent and clear institution in charge of complaints to be transparent and fair,” Koul Panha said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Yuthana at [email protected]

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