Election Body Probes Alleged Irregularities

The National Election Committee (NEC) is conducting field investigations in three provinces after the CNRP accused the military of having its forces register to vote outside their home villages or military bases as required by law, an official said on Friday.

The NEC received information that soldiers, military police and police had been allowed to register beyond their bases in Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and Battambang prov­inces, according to NEC spokes­­man Hang Puthea.

“The NEC received some clues about these irregularities and sent the NEC’s legal and expert officials to investigate in the field,” Mr. Puthea said. “So next week, we will get a report about the investigation’s findings.”

CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha had written to NEC chairman Sik Bunhok on Thursday to alert the committee to the military’s alleged breach of the election law.
The law requires that those casting ballots have Cambodian national identification cards and be registered to vote. To register, residents must be at least 18 year old and have an address or reside in the commune where they intend to vote.

Commune elections are set for June 4 next year, while the national election is scheduled for July 2018.

Mr. Sokha’s letter says the election law was violated when members of the armed forces were sent to register at locations outside their home communes or where their military bases are located.

Registering to vote at “different locations beside their addresses or resident bases is an action that violates the election law and voter registration procedures for making new 2016 voter lists,” it says.

Neither Defense Ministry spokes­­­man Chhum Socheat nor Royal Cambodian Armed Forces commander-in-chief Pol Saroeun could be reached for comment on Friday.

Mr. Puthea acknowledged that it would be difficult for many members of the armed forces to return to their homes to register and then return again to vote, “as they have duty at their bases.”

He offered a possible work-around, however, noting that at least 70,000 military and police officers would be stationed at the country’s 22,000 polling stations on election day next year.

“So those soldiers could be assigned to register at the locations they will be protecting.”


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