National Election Committee Chairman Chheng Phon has refused to accept NEC Vice Chairman Kassie Neou’s resignation from the ad hoc committee in charge of investigating fraud complaints.
“I will not agree to sign this resignation,” Chheng Phon said Wednesday. “What is the point of his resigning right now? Everything we have done is almost over.”
The NEC vice chairman, who chaired the newly formed Election Results Control Commission, quit the panel Tuesday in a row over who could order a recount of contested communes.
He complained that his order Tuesday to bring five commune ballot bags for recounting was ignored and said his fellow NEC board members were “stalling” the investigation process.
Kassie Neou’s griping marked the first time an NEC board member confirmed long-rumored divisions within the body.
Im Suorsdei, the NEC secretary-general, said Tuesday that Kassie Neou was simply exhausted and over-irritable. He also said the vice chairman was sidestepping protocol by directly ordering a recount instead of putting the matter through the proper administrative channels.
He said the real problem was that the subcommittee had been without recounting procedures, which were drafted Tuesday. Under the new procedures, a legal subcommittee screens party complaints and recommends whether the results control commission take action or not.
Chheng Phon said Wednesday he also thinks Kassie Neou overreacted. “He got tired with work and so he feels a little angry,” he said, adding that he planned to meet the vice chairman to discuss the matter.
“I will try to persuade Kassie Neou to get him to continue his work,” he said. “Our work is almost finished, so I will ask him to please be tolerant for a while.”
Im Suorsdei said later Wednesday that Kassie Neou had agreed to stay on the ad hoc commission. There was never talk of his leaving the NEC altogether.
“He just met with me. There is no problem,” Im Suorsdei said.
Kassie Neou himself was unavailable for comment. He was not in his office and his mobile telephone was switched off for most of Wednesday.