The CNRP has pledged to take legal action against the leadership of the National Election Committee (NEC) after the Constitutional Council of Cambodia announced on Saturday that election irregularities in Kratie province were not significant enough to alter preliminary results released by the NEC.
Despite the Constitutional Council’s order that punitive action be taken against those who failed to properly seal packages containing official polling records from at least eight locations in Kratie province, CNRP lawmaker Kuoy Bunroeun said that the body’s decision was unacceptable.
“The decision of the Constitutional Council is an injustice to the Cambodia National Rescue Party,” Mr. Bunroeun said at a public hearing held at the Constitutional Council on Saturday where the NEC had a chance to defend itself against the opposition’s complaints.
Mr. Bunroeun added that the Constitutional Council’s decision to have the NEC punish a handful of polling stations chiefs did not address the CNRP’s claims that the NEC worked with the CPP to conduct widespread fraud on election day.
“Ordering [the NEC] to punish the officers at the polling station is also an injustice to them. They did not make this mistake by themselves, rather they received orders from the top,” Mr. Bunroeun said.
“Now the period for election complaints is over and we are now considering [challenging the NEC] in the criminal court system over fraud. Lawyers are preparing to file a lawsuit against the [nine-member] NEC,” he added.
Preliminary election results gave two out of three National Assembly seats in Kratie to the CPP. Final results are set to be released by September 8.
Constitutional Council President Ek Sam Ol said in a statement on Saturday that it had asked the NEC to ensure punitive action was taken against responsible parties in Kratie province.
“[The Constitutional Council] gives this task to the National Election Committee to take action to punish those officers who have broken the rule of law,” Mr. Sam Ol said.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said the NEC would follow the council’s orders to investigate and punish local NEC officials who allowed irregularities to occur at their polling stations, though he said punishment should not be too severe.
“We will investigate this case in line with the Constitutional Council’s decision and we have to determined who was involved in these cases,” he said.
“But if we fine them too much money and punish them as the opposition demands, they would not work for the NEC during the next election because they were only temporary staff and got paid a small amount,” Mr. Nytha added.
On August 25, the Constitutional Council ordered the NEC to open the packages known as “safety box A” from 13 polling stations in Kratie province, where the opposition CNRP has alleged vote rigging. In a public session to open the packages, it was revealed eight were either unsealed or improperly sealed, leading the CNRP to file further complaints with the Constitutional Council.
The NEC has also opened safety packages from polling stations in Battambang, Siem Reap and Kandal provinces.
In Battambang City, a number of 1102 forms, the initial document on which vote counts are recorded, were left blank. In Siem Reap province, some of the packages were improperly sealed and original and subsequent forms gave differing vote counts at some polling stations.