Constitutional Council Upholds Rejection of Election Complaints

The Constitutional Council of Cambodia on Tuesday upheld the decision by the National Election Committee (NEC) to reject four complaints from the opposition CNRP of election irregularities during the July 28 poll.

The Constitutional Council sent four separate letters to CNRP representatives Nou Chamroeun and Ruos Suo saying that the council had met Tuesday and rejected the four appeals made by the opposition against the NEC’s decision to reject the complaints earlier this month.

“The Constitutional Council thinks that the letter dated August 10, 2013, from the National Election Committee properly complies with the law,” each letter says, referring to letters previously sent by the NEC rejecting the complaints.

The letters do not elaborate on the allegations of irregularities, but refer to two cases each in Phnom Penh and in Siem Reap province. The complaints were not made with regard to the NEC’s preliminary election results—which show the ruling CPP taking 68 seats to the CNRP’s 55—but in­stead concern alleged problems on polling day.

“Today’s meeting is not to resolve the complaints against the preliminary election [results],” said Uth Chhorn, spokesman for the Constitutional Council, adding that eight members of the nine-member body had attended Tuesday’s meeting.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that the four complaints rejected by the council were minor, and that more serious irregularities were yet to be dealt with.

“For the most serious complaints, we haven’t received a response yet, but we have concrete evidence of those irregularities,” he said, adding that the CNRP—which says it was cheated out of winning the ballot—would still push for an independent investigation of election irregularities outside of the NEC and Constitutional Council.

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said Tuesday that the council’s rapid decision-making on its first day of reviewing complaints risked painting the body as a rubber stamp for decisions made by the NEC.

“Some due process is needed, they can’t simply reject the complaints and not let anyone know the reasons why they rejected the complaints,” he said.

“It will affect the credibility of the Constitutional Council otherwise, because now the voting public and the international community is observing the way the NEC and the Constitutional Council deal with the complaints, and it seems they are not acting seriously.”

The NEC received a total of 125 com­plaints concerning poll­ing and bal­lot counting on July 28, including 90 complaints submitted by the CNRP, 15 by the CPP, 12 by citizens and the rest by election monitors, local officials and smaller political parties.

Of the 125 complaints received by the NEC, 25 were conciliated, 24 were rejected and 32 were refused without notification before the period to submit re­ports of irregularities closed on August 6.

(Additional reporting by Alex Willemyns)

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