Council Has Final Word on Election Disputes

If someone files a complaint with the National Election Com­mittee and is not satisfied with the ruling, another option is appealing to the Constitutional Council, the body charged with interpreting the country’s Constitution.

After 1998’s Election Day, more than 800 complaints from Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party flooded the Council. But most were rejected for missing a 72-hour deadline, Council member Yang Sem said Wednesday.

Consequently, critics wrote off the Constitutional Council, whose decisions are final, as being weighted in favor of the CPP.

But Yang Sem said the Council has been working hard to avoid similar confusion about deadlines in this year’s election. He said the nine men sitting on it have traveled to all provinces to alert people about the complaint process.

The Council consists of nine dig­nitaries holding degrees of higher education in law, administration, diplomacy or economics. Three are appointed by royal de­cree, three are elected by the National Assembly, and three are elected by the Supreme Council of Magistracy.

Asked about CPP bias, Yang Sem said the six dignitaries who are not appointed by King Noro­dom Sihanouk “you could say are CPP, but [they] are selected by the Congress…and the High Court Magistracy.”

But “no matter what party they come from, the ruling is strictly according to the Constitution,” Yang Sem said.

All complaints to the Council must be lodged within 72 hours of an NEC rejection, according to the election law.

Appeals on temporary results is­sued by the NEC must be submitted to the Council from       Aug 14 to Aug 26, according to the NEC’s 2003 election calendar.

The Council is to hold public hearings on cases it accepts and decide upon them within 10 to 20 days, according to election law.

If the Council finds a polling complaint warranted, it can cancel results from that station and order a new election there. That rerun election must be held within eight days of the cancellation.

 

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