By Eang Mengleng
November 1, 2012
The National Election Committee (NEC) on Tuesday dismissed recent
resolutions passed by the European Parliament and the Australian Senate
calling for free and fair elections in Cambodia with an unhindered role for convicted opposition leader Sam Rainsy.
Both the European and Australian resolutions, passed Friday and
Monday respectively, cite recent recommendations from the U.N.’s human
rights envoy to Cambodia, Surya Subedi, which included a political
solution that would allow Mr. Rainsy to “play a full role in Cambodian
Mr. Rainsy has been in self-imposed exile since 2009 to avoid an
11-year jail sentence on convictions he and his supporters consider
The European Parliament also noted as part of its resolution that
observers found Cambodia’s 2008 national elections to have fallen short
of international standards and said the electoral process still had
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said Europe and Australia had the
right to criticize but rejected claims of flaws in the electoral
“It’s not true,” Mr. Nytha said. “The NEC follows the law.”
“There are many local and international communities that support our
administration of elections in Cambodia,” he added, though he declined
to name those supporters.
Mr. Nytha also criticized both resolutions for leaning too heavily
on Mr. Subedi’s reports as a way of outlining their critique of the
human rights situation in Cambodia.
“I know that Mr. Subedi interviewed one person who criticized the
NEC process and put it in his report and recommendations; it is not
fair,” he said.
Mr. Nytha said Mr. Subedi and his supporters ought to be happy about
the National Assembly’s recent decision to appoint two former judges as
members of the NEC, one of Mr. Subedi’s own recommendations.
“We have two retired judges just like the United Nations special rapporteur had demanded,” he said.
In his latest report, Mr. Subedi recommended that the NEC draw some
of its members from among retired former judges. He also recommended
that all parties with seats in the National Assembly agree on who gets
But when the National Assembly approved the two former judges on
October 11, the SRP and Human Rights Party boycotted the vote because
they had both been left out of the selection process.
The Interior Ministry nominated the judges on its own and has ignored all requests to explain how it selected them.
In addition to condemning Mr. Rainsy’s conviction and pushing for
his safe return to Cambodia, the European Parliament in its resolution
urged the government “to implement the recent U.N. recommendations on
reforming the electoral system to ensure it conforms with international
standards before, during and after the casting of votes.”
Speaking with reporters on Monday, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith sought to downplay the resolution.
“I know the European Union did not decide like this,” he said. “Only some European Parliament members adopted it.”