The National Election Committee will likely delay Saturday’s scheduled announcement of official election results several days while the Constitutional Council holds public hearings on fraud complaints, officials said Thursday.
The Constitutional Council plans to begin holding public hearings Monday and will decide today which complaints will get hearings, an official said.
Samraing Kamsan, spokesman for NEC Chairman Chheng Phon, said the NEC had hoped to stick to its schedule to announce final results Saturday, but had to abandon that date when told the Council planned to take the full 20 days it is allowed to investigate complaints.
“You see, we are now waiting for the last decision of the Constitutional Council,” Samraing Kamsan said. “The representative of the Constitutional Council came to the NEC and said they need 20 days of time to investigate and make hearing on all complaints.”
He said the official results should be announced late next week.
The law on elections gives the Constitutional Council 10 to 20 days to resolve complaints after it receives them. The Council’s last day to take complaints was Aug 13.
That makes Wednesday, Sept 2, the deadline for the Council to rule on complaints. Council member Bin Chhin said Thursday the deadline would be met.
“The Council will complete its job on time. The hearings will probably be held on Monday next week and they will not be delayed past Sept 2,” Bin Chhin said after the Council met Thursday.
The panel is expected to decide today which of the 800 complaints filed by opposition parties merit a hearing, he said.
The Council has been criticized as likely to favor the ruling CPP, but Bin Chhin said the nine members are serious about investigations.
“To avoid criticism and to make sure complaints are strictly and clearly decided, the Council has sent people to investigate in places such as Kompong Cham province to find more evidence and witnesses,” Bin Chhin said.
“We need to seriously investigate complaints before we can accept or reject them because we do not want to have the public opinion accuse us of [rejecting] any complaint without grounds,” he said.
Bin Chhin said the Council also is discussing an opposition complaint that the NEC abruptly ended its recounting after three days.
Also Thursday, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (Comfrel) issued a statement calling on the Constitutional Council to order more recounts to dispel the widespread perception of fraud.
Comfrel, the largest of the three national observer groups, said that upon further investigation it still believes that the polling and vote-counting was “reasonably credible.”
But the group still urged more recounts, saying they “will be a useful measure for settling the existing controversy over the results.”
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