NEC Rejects Vote Buying Allegations

National Election Committee officials Tuesday dismissed Fun­cinpec complaints that the ruling CPP engaged in a brazen round of vote buying in Bat­tambang pro­vince in the closing hours of the commune council campaign.

The alleged vote buying was not reported immediately after it occurred, and not all of the complaints could be verified, said the chairman of a three-member NEC panel as he explained the rejection of the complaint.

“We have already sent our men to investigate this case and we see that the complaints have some problems,” said board Chairman Chea Cham­roeun, who claims no party affiliation.

The decision, reached after a 30-minute hearing, offers no course of appeal. The other members of the panel were CPP member Prum Nhien Vichet and Sam Rainsy Party official Kouy Bun Roeun. “I thought they would make a decision like this,” said Yim Heng, who represented Fun­cin­pec in the hearing.

The party filed 30 complaints in Ek Phnom, Sangke, Mong and Battambang districts.

The commune council election law prohibits political parties and candidates from handing out money to gain support, as well as the distribution of “things in order to gain support and buying of ballots.” If not broken, the law was stretched by the three main parties before the Feb 3 balloting. Sam Rainsy supporters distributed vitamins, while CPP and Funcin­pec officials handed out T-shirts.

Battambang province was a key proving ground for the political parties, with 96 commune chief and council post positions at stake.

In the 1998 elections, CPP took 36 percent of the vote and Fun­cinpec took 27 percent.

In 2002, CPP claimed 66 percent of the vote; Funcinpec 22 percent; Sam Rainsy Party 12 percent.

The NEC panel Tuesday also dismissed a complaint from the Sam Rainsy Party which alleged that a Phnom Penh commune voting station chief wrote in the names of two voters who had not registered. The CPP won at that polling station by six votes.



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