Final Election Complaint Turned Down

The Constitutional Council on Wednesday ruled against the Sam Rainsy Party during the final hearing of election complaints, ruling that there would be no re­counts or re-votes in any provinces.

After a two-hour deliberation, Council President Bin Chhin announced that ballot recounts and re-votes in all requested provinces were unnecessary.

Complaints from the Sam Rain­sy Party over election irregularities in Svay Rieng and Kompong Thom provinces were rejected because opposition party agents had signed the voting tallies, approving their legitimacy, he said.

In its complaints, the opposition party called for re-votes in more than 50 communes in three prov­inces and one municipality, alleging voting irregularities.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy outlined the party’s four grievances before the Council at the start of the hearing, alleging voting problems in Phnom Penh and in  Banteay Meanchey, Kompong Thom and Svay Rieng provinces. Sam Rainsy Party Senator Ou Bun Long and two party activists took turns defending the case.

The opposition party requested a recount of used ballots and

ballots deemed invalid by the provincial election committee in 39 communes in Kompong Thom.

The party demanded a recount in 14 communes in Svay Rieng, and requested an investigation into the transfer of registered names from old to new polling stations in Phnom Penh. Ou Bun Long requested a re-vote in Poipet town, in Banteay Meanchey.

Poipet was riddled with problems, Ou Bun Long said, with only 46 percent of registered voters casting bal­lots. He attrib­uted the low turnout to the unannounced relocation of 27 poll­ing stations. He also argued that election officials did not provide more than 800 voters registration receipts necessary to cast ballots.

In addition, voting lists from Poipet included voters from nonexistent villages, he said.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha admitted that the NEC’s computerized voting list likely assigned Poipet voters’ names with villages from other provinces.

“This is a slight mistake,” Tep Nitha said.

NEC member Mean Satik said the NEC allowed political parties to file complaints at each stage of the election process. The NEC would have organized a re-vote if sufficient evidence demanded it, he said.

Tep Nitha defended each complaint, saying that the NEC had enough proof to disprove the op­po­sition’s claims of wrongdoing.

Ou Bun Long said in July that party agents had signed the forms believing they confirmed their presence at the polling station.

Council member Son Soubert said Wednesday afternoon that he admired the opposition’s complaints because they complied with the law.

“If the political party agents didn’t sign the reconciliation documents at each stage, the Sam Rainsy Party would win some cases,” he said.

Wednesday’s hearing of Sam Rainsy Party complaints was the first attended from start to finish by the defendant, the NEC and the political party plaintiffs. Funcinpec lawyers walked out in protest of their hearing on Monday and boycotted Tuesday’s hearing.

Sam Rainsy Party and Funcin­pec members issued a joint declaration Wednesday rejecting election results hours after the Council issued its final decision.

“The Alliance of Democrats reaffirms its rejection of the 27 July election results,” the statement said. “We appeal for calm and reiterate our offer to negotiate peacefully for the formation of a national union government that will really serve the people, and put the country back on track.”

Meanwhile, members of the Alliance of Democrats’ executive committee met at Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Noro­dom Sirivudh’s home Wednes­day afternoon in what has become a daily planning session to unite the parties’ political maneuvering and ideologies, Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Ung Bun-Ang said.

The Alliance’s 10-member Stra­te­gic and Planning Committee is comprised of five Funcinpec and five opposition party members. From Funcinpec are Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua, Funcinpec Deputy Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay, Min­istry of Finance Secretary of State Kong Vibol, Funcinpec Deputy Secretary-General Sun Chanthol and National Assembly Secretary-General Kol Pheng.

Opposition party members include Sam Rainsy Party Vice President Kong Korm, Steering Committee member Kouy Bun Roeun, Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang and parliamentarians Yim Sovann and Kim Sou Phirith.

The members planned to discuss Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy’s tour of the US, which begins Sept 5, Ung Bun-Ang said. The leaders are scheduled to meet with Cam­bo­dian-American community members on Sept 6 and Sept 7 in Los Angeles and will arrive Sept 8 in Washington to meet with US officials on Sept 9 and Sept 10, he said.

Sam Rainsy is scheduled to leave for Paris today and will not return to Cambodia before flying to the US, Ung Bun-Ang said.

 

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