The Constitutional Council of Cambodia on Monday rejected the CNRP’s complaints against the first 76 of 2,441 people the opposition party says were unlawfully registered to vote last year, arguing, like the National Election Committee, that the opposition party lacked evidence to back up its claims.
Following the election committee’s decision to throw out the opposition’s complaints against all 2,441 voters last week, the constitutional council began hearings on the same names on Monday and is scheduled to go through the last of them by the end of Wednesday.
“The people who were registered have enough qualifications for registration, so the decision of the National Election Committee was correct,” council chairman Im
Chhun Lim announced at the end of Monday’s hearing on the first 76 names. “There was not enough evidence for the Constitutional Council of Cambodia to reject its decision.”
Just like the election committee, Mr. Chhun Lim said the voters’ identity cards appeared to be in order.
The CNRP claims the people in its complaints—almost all of whom are suspected of being Vietnamese—may not be Cambodian citizens and wants the government to look into whether they have the documents required to obtain the government-issued identity cards conferring citizenship. But, again, like the election committee, Mr. Chhun Lim said the council did not have the authority to investigate their citizenship records.
Council spokesman Min Sean said his agency’s investigation into the complaints included meetings with commune authorities where the disputed voters lived and with some of the voters themselves. He declined to say how many disputed voters the investigators met with or what they were asked.
Pheng Heng, the CNRP’s lawyer for the case, dismissed the council’s investigation as superficial and said it should have asked for help from other government agencies to probe the disputed voters’ citizenship.
“We want them to investigate whether they have Khmer nationality or not. If they are foreigners and have been nationalized, we welcome them. But they did not investigate that point,” he said.
“Everyone has to follow the law, but that doesn’t stop us from cooperating with relevant parties to investigate in order to make a decision. So I think the Constitutional Council of Cambodia has the right to ask them for help.”
Meng Sopheary, the head of election and legislative affairs for the CNRP, said the party would take its complaints to the Interior Ministry if the council rejects all of its complaints.
The ministry has already started investigating.
Prok May Oudom, spokesman for the ministry’s general identification department, said his office had started looking into the voters in the CNRP’s complaints who were issued identity cards prior to 2010, at the request of the election committee.
Unlike later cards, he said, the government does not have easily accessible electronic copies of the citizenship records that should have been used to issue them.
He declined to say how many of the disputed voters it was investigating.
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