NEC Says Ballots OK; Opposition Wants to See

The National Election Commit­tee announced over the weekend that a reconciliation of ballots from the July 26 election showed no discrepancies. But opposition parties said the numbers are “an empty claim” unless they are allowed to view the process.

The NEC released a statement Saturday saying that only 152 of the nearly 9.1 million total ballots sent to provincial election commissions went missing during the electoral process.

The electoral body counted 4.9 million valid ballots and 3.7 million unused ones. The remainder were either spoiled or destroyed, including 3,000 ballots reported destroyed during the election day attack near Anlong Veng by Khmer Rouge hard-liners.

Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party have demanded ballot reconciliation as a condition of forming a coalition government, and the ruling CPP agreed, in one of its only concessions thus far in negotiations.

The opposition parties, however, said Sunday they do not consi­der the NEC’s reconciliation adequate. “Our position all along has been that we want to see the ballots themselves,” said Funcinpec par­liamentarian Pok Than. “We’ve­ known all along they had the reconciliation on paper….We want to be invited to participate in the process.”

The opposition parties lost the election to the CPP but control enough seats in the parliament to block formation of a new government. They claim the CPP won through fraud and intimidation and have demanded a public ballot reconciliation to prove there were no missing ballots that could have been used to stuff voting boxes.

All three parties requested that the NEC reconcile the ballots af­ter the opening of coalition ne­gotiations late last month.

The NEC’s statement on reconciliation Saturday appeared to be in response to those requests. However, the Sam Rainsy Party said that reconciliation cannot be considered valid.

“These numbers alone are completely unsatisfactory without eyewitness checking of the ballots as requested by the three main parties and agreed by the NEC,” said a party statement issued Sunday.

An aide to Sam Rainsy suggested that the NEC’s reconciliation statement might be a preliminary one, with a public reconciliation to come later.

NEC officials could not be reached Sunday for further comment.






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