NEC Rejects Five SRP Election Complaints

The National Election Committee rejected five SRP complaints over allegations of CPP election campaign rule-breaking Wednesday evening.

The complaints ranged from alleged vote-buying by an Interior Ministry official to a case of a youth tearing an SRP leaflet from a house.

A case brought against Interior Ministry Secretary of State Prum Sokha for allegedly giving out money and sarongs was among the cases rejected by the NEC. Prum Sokha has strongly denied the accusation, saying that he had merely handed out hats and shirts bearing the CPP logo, which is allowed under election regulations.

Lawyer Suy Chhun Hak, who represented Prum Sokha at the hearing, said the decisions by the NEC were acceptable and fair to all sides.

SRP President Sam Rainsy, however, took issue with the election body’s rulings, claiming it had bowed to political pressure.

“We know that [the decisions] were made under the power of the ruling party,” he said.

Ruos Suor, who presented two of the five cases on behalf of the SRP, said he would appeal the NEC decisions to the Constitutional Council.

In other election news, an SRP commune official Wednesday accused former SRP members who had defected to the ruling CPP of trying to buy off opposition activists in Svay Rieng province’s Svay Tiep district.

Rath Thon, SRP deputy commune chief for Svay Rompear commune, claimed that former SRP lawmaker Ngor Sovann, who defected to the CPP earlier this year, and five other SRP defectors had offered him a five-year salary and a motorbike if he would join the CPP.

“They came to try and convin­ce me,” said Rath Thon, who earns about $20 per month at his com­mune post. “But I won’t sell my conscience to feed my family.”

Rath Thon said that although the offer was against election rules, he would not be making an official complaint, as the alle-

­ged offenders were his former

colleagues.

However, Ruos Suor, who is deputy head of the SRP election department, said that a complaint would be filed today at the commune election committee on behalf of Rath Thon.

“This is an attempted purchase [of Rath Thon],” he said.

Contacted Wednesday, Ngor Sovann denied the claim against him.

“[Rath Thon] contacted me and asked what offer he would get,” Ngor Sovann said, adding that Rath Thon’s failure to get the terms he had hoped for led him to twist the truth about what had happened.

“This is the custom of the opposition party in order to hide its weak leadership of corruption and nepotism,” Ngor Sovann said.

Meanwhile, Mao Monyvann, SRP lawmaker for Kompong Cham, alleged Wednesday that two banners hanging over a road being constructed in Srei Santhor district’s Koh Andet commune saying that it had been donated by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife amounted to vote-buying.

A formal complaint about the banners, which read “This road and bridge was donated by Prime Minister Hun Sen and Her Excellency Bun Rany” was to be made to the NEC today, he said.

“Such banners and Hun Sen logos posted on construction materials and bulldozers are a kind of buying of villagers’ hearts in order to vote for them,” Mao Monyvann claimed, adding that the complaint had already been rejected at the commune and provincial levels.

Kompong Cham provincial election committee President Meang Meng Hun said by phone Wed­nesday that the complaint had been rejected because the banners had been hanging over the road since before the campaign period officially began.

“The allegations made by the SRP are not reasonable,” he said.

Koul Panha, director of election monitoring NGO Comfrel, agreed that if the banners were hanging before the campaign period was under way, it could not technically be regarded as vote-buying.

“All of these allegations must be seriously investigated,” he added. “If these banners and logos on construction equipment were put there specifically for the election season, then absolutely that is vote-buying.”

(Reporting by Pin Sisovann, Prak Chan Thul and Kuch Naren)

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