Monitors Give Wary Praise

International election monitors observed far less polling irregularities before, during and after the election than Cambodian monitors, a fact the National Election Committee should consider be­fore finalizing election results, national election monitors said Wednesday.

A report released by the Committee for Free and Fair Elec­tions and the Neutral, Impar­tial Com­­mittee for Free and Fair Elec­tions cautiously praised July 27 voting procedures but identified widespread violations of the electoral law in need of investigation. The report contains observations from monitors located at every voting and counting station throughout the country from July 26 to July 28.

The NEC’s complaint period, which is ongoing this week, does not provide a good or fair trial of political party objections because it does not consider all election offenses, said Comfrel first rep­re­sentative Thun Saray.

Political party and voter complaints gauged by election monitors include 507 failures to ensure ballot secrecy, 153 cases of pol­ling station officials ignoring complaints, 67 cases of voting booths opening late and 39 cases of empty ballot boxes not being shown to observers before the opening of polling stations.

Comfrel and Nicfec urged the NEC to consider their reports and conduct deeper investigations to reveal the true nature of the vote. “According to our knowledge, the NEC in other count­ries go to the field to collect information. They didn’t do any in­ves­tigation at all [here]. It’s not enough evidence,” Thun Saray said.

“The main violation observed was illegal election campaigning, mostly committed by the ruling party,” a Comfrel and Nicfec statement said. Campaigning was conducted via direct and indirect vote-buying. Voters were either given money or promised gifts to vote for the ruling party, it said.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said the NEC only received reports of Sam Rainsy Party vote-buying the day before the election in Kompong Cham province.

“There weren’t any big problems which can affect the election process,” he said. “We can say that we can accept the election.”



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