CPP Lawmaker Says Election Monitor Could Face Legal Action

CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun said Wednesday that the National Assembly will take legal action against the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel) for causing “chaos” in society by reporting the day before the national election that the indelible voter ink could be easily washed off.

“On [July] 26, the campaign ended and the 27th was a day of calm, but on the 27th, Comfrel committed an act that is not acceptable according to the election law. They made chaos using black ink,” Mr. Vun told reporters at the National Assembly following a ceremony during which Vietnamese Ambassador Ngo Anh Dzung donated 1,000 tons of rice to flood victims in Cambodia.

“We will take action according to the law for disseminating untrue information and making chaos in society as this is a serious problem with a huge impact and we need to discuss it with them,” he said, adding that Comfrel would be asked to answer questions before the National Assembly regarding its reports on indelible ink. He did not say when an official compliant would be filed.

In a video released on YouTube on July 27, a Comfrel staff member with an ink-stained finger is shown cleaning his finger using a mystery solution, which Comfrel later revealed was hair straightening liquid.

Comfrel also held a press conference, which was covered widely in both the English- and Khmer- language press, to announce that the ink being used by the National Election Committee (NEC) could be easily washed off, raising concerns over potential double voting.

Mr. Vun also said that both Comfrel and Washington-based National Democratic Institute would be asked to answer questions before the National Assembly about surveys they conducted that predicted that more than a million voters would be disenfranchised due to flaws in official voter rolls, a number that Mr. Vun claimed was heavily inflated.

Koul Panha, executive director of Comfrel, said Wednesday that his NGO had no obligation to answer to the National Assembly, adding that the ruling party seemed to be trying to bully its way toward election credibility.

“We suggest they ask the NEC to answer the questions. However, if they need some information—some testimony regarding the NEC’s answers—we are ready to do that,” Mr. Panha said, adding that he encourages any move by the government to review the accuracy of Comfrel’s voter audits.

“Maybe our audit has an error, maybe, I don’t know. But verification is the best way to see. The member of parliament working with the CPP should work with NEC to disclose the voter lists used on 28 of July on voting day,” he said.

“There were many errors and irregularities in the management of the election,” he added.

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