Constitutional Council to Meet Over Election Complaints

The Constitutional Council of Cambodia will hold a plenary session today to discuss at least 19 cases of alleged election irregularities, including numerous complaints over election results that have been received on appeal from the National Election Committee (NEC).

“The Constitutional Council is resolving 19 complaints, which in­cludes nine complaints received on August 17, 2013, against the decision made by the NEC [to reject] complaints against preliminary National Assembly election results,” the Constitutional Council said in a statement received Monday.

Ek Sam Ol, president of the Constitutional Council, confirmed that the nine-member arbitration body will convene today to review the election complaints, but referred further questions to the council’s spokesman, Uth Chhorn, who could not be reached for comment.

CNRP lawmaker Kuy Bunroeun said that the opposition has filed 15 complaints with the Constitutional Council and planned to file two additional complaints this morning before the body convenes.

He said that one of the complaints called for a revote at a polling station in Kandal province’s Sa’ang Phnom commune, where a polling station closed early, preventing hundreds of eligible voters from casting their ballot.

The CNRP needs only 168 additional votes in order win a seventh seat in Kandal province, where preliminary results from the NEC show it has secured six out of 11 seats.

“In Siem Reap province, we asked for a thorough investigation at a number of polling stations where soldiers dressed as civilians were transported by military trucks to vote in those communes,” Mr. Bunroeun said.

CNRP chief whip Son Chhay said on Sunday that the opposition party did not expect to have their complaints taken into serious consideration by the Con­stitutional Council, but was following proper procedure in order to show the bias of state institutions entrusted with overseeing the country’s electoral process.

“The Constitutional Council is still the ruling party’s tool. We have never had an experience where [the] Constitutional Council has made a decision different from the prime minister’s objective or from what the NEC has decided. So we have no hope,” Mr. Chhay said.

“But we have to put everything through the very, very bad system for the record and let the international community and people judge their behavior,” he added.

However, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said on Sunday that by agreeing to participate in elections organized by the NEC, with the Constitutional Council as final arbiter, the CNRP was obliged to accept the decisions that are handed down.

“If they [the CNRP] don’t trust the system, why did they engage in the election? Once they engage they have to play by the rules of the game,” Mr. Siphan said.

(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)

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