The Constitutional Council on Tuesday dismissed Funcinpec’s final election complaint at a hearing boycotted by royalist party officials.
The Council on Tuesday heard five Funcinpec grievances, alleging that votes were bought before the election campaign, that voting booths were relocated unannounced, that voting lists were posted poorly, that commune officials’ were unlawfully present at voting stations, and that the National Election Committee failed to solve three-fourths of the commune-level election complaints.
Funcinpec boycotted the hearing at the Senate complex because of the Council’s unprofessional behavior, Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou said Tuesday.
“They were technically unprofessional,” he said. “According to the law, the Constitutional Council has the duty to resolve election complaints.”
The Council ruled Monday that it did not have the authority to consider Funcinpec’s charge that the NEC is partial to the CPP.
Despite the plaintiff’s absence, eight of nine Council members heard the NEC’s defense against charges of allegedly mishandled election procedures.
The council deemed Funcinpec’s complaints groundless and dismissed the case.
Funcinpec on Monday prepared 99 witnesses to testify on behalf of the party, in compliance with the Council’s request for evidence, but since they boycotted Tuesday’s hearing, those 99 witnesses were not in attendance.
The NEC offered no witnesses, saying its national-level members could speak on behalf of witnesses from the provincial and commune election committees.
Constitutional Council President Bin Chhin’s soft-spoken questioning of the NEC on Tuesday was in stark contrast to the combative interrogation of Funcinpec lawyers he conducted Monday.
NEC member Mean Satik said the parties have the right to bestow supporters with gifts prior to election campaigning. He said authorities are prohibited from entering polling stations unless election officials request their assistance, which he said was the case throughout the country.
Concerning Funcinpec’s grievance with relocated voting lists, which allegedly confused and prevented thousands of Cambodians from voting, Mean Satik said the NEC updated and posted voting lists in a timely manner.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said the NEC clearly informed the public about the relocation of polling stations.
Son Soubert, who was appointed to the Constitutional Council by King Norodom Sihanouk, was the only member to sternly question the NEC’s defense of its alleged failure to solve three-fourths of the complaints.
When NEC Legal Services and Complaints Department Director Keo Phalla claimed the NEC had solved all commune and provincial election complaints, Son Soubert demanded the exact number of unresolved complaints.
“I never realized that any complaints haven’t been solved.” Keo Phalla said. The he said that 30 remained without resolution.
Funcinpec lawyer Son Arun said by telephone Tuesday that he went into hiding following Monday’s hearing after receiving threatening phone calls.
Son Arun said he hid at Funcinpec headquarters and slept in an undisclosed location after three unidentified callers said they knew where he was and warned the lawyer to be careful.
Verbal combat waged between Son Arun and Bin Chhin on Monday ended abruptly when Son Arun led Funcinpec lawyers and party officials out of the courtroom before the hearing was over.