Monday, August 5, 2013
Election Monitors Submit Request to Review NEC Documents
Independent election monitors and civil society groups submitted a request to the National Election Committee (NEC) on Friday asking to review post-election voter rolls and Identity Certificates for Elections (ICE) forms in seven provinces in which reports of election irregularities were widespread on July 28
The Situation Room, a committee of civil society bodies that monitored the national election, has asked the NEC to disclose the names of people who voted in these provinces in order to check for cases of double voting, and to disclose details regarding ICE documentation used in some areas to assess the level of fraudulent voting, said Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel).
The provinces include Prey Veng province, where reports of fraudulent use of ICEs was widespread; Phnom Penh, where monitors suspect high levels of double voting; and Siem Reap province, where election monitors witnessed thousands of members of the military being moved around the province on voting day, Mr. Panha said.
The other provinces with high levels of suspected voting irregularities and fraud include Battambang, Kompong Cham, Kandal and Kratie provinces.
Mr. Panha said that Comfrel and other election monitors were currently compiling their findings and will release a quantitative report on suspected irregularities in the coming days. However, without the NEC’s cooperation in reviewing voter names and documentation, a conclusive investigation of election fraud will not be possible, he said.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said Sunday that the organization had been too busy to consider the request for access to documentation from the independent election monitors.
“We haven’t checked their request yet because we don’t have time to check it, we are busy solving complaints,” he said, adding that the NEC has received only 10 reports of voters using false identification since the election a week ago.
“For the irregularity reports, our committee will start checking them on [August] 6,” Mr. Nytha said, adding: “Those issues have not seriously affected the results of the election.”
However, CNRP representatives in both Prey Veng and Kandal provinces said that they have received hundreds of complaints about fraudulent ICEs, double voting and missing names, but have yet to tabulate the total number of reported irregularities in their provinces. In Phnom Penh, as of Friday, they said they had received more than 2,000 complaints.
The Situation Room’s request for documentation comes as talks to form a multi-party committee composed of the CPP and CNRP have broken down, with the NEC laying blame on the CNRP for its insistence that the U.N. be involved in the investigation of election results, a request that the NEC says has no legal precedent.
Hang Puthea, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said that election monitors were offering an apolitical way for the NEC to bring credibility to the election process.
“Whether they [the NEC] has this commission [with the CPP and CNRP] or doesn’t have it, we NGOs have to work our way. We want to solve the technical problems, not the political problem,” he said.
“We will continue to do our work, and we will show if the NEC likes to cooperate in transparent investigations,” he added.
(Additional reporting by Neou Vannarin)