The National Election Committee (NEC) said Wednesday it will release final election results by September 8, while political parties and local authorities have filed a total of 14 reports on election-day irregularities since Friday.
An NEC subcommittee will investigate the 14 reports, which include accusations of misconduct on the day of the July 28 vote, over the next four to five days, NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said.
That investigation will cause only a slight delay to the previously scheduled Saturday release date for the preliminary election results, Mr. Nytha said.
“The NEC’s process of resolving the reports will be similar to the process of resolving complaints, [we will decide] whether they are worthy of investigation or rejection,” Mr. Nytha said, adding that the NEC’s decision on the validity of reports, or results of any investigation, cannot be appealed to any other authority.
Because of the complaints, Mr. Nytha said, the NEC may push slightly back its release of preliminary election results from the scheduled release date on Saturday to either Sunday or Monday.
Among the reports, seven were submitted by the opposition CNRP, four by the ruling CPP, two by Funcinpec and one by a district level authority.
An NEC subcommittee created to investigate irregularities in the July 28 national election will review each report and decide whether they can be consolidated before discussing whether or not to pursue an investigation into the complaints, Mr. Nytha said.
Once the NEC releases its preliminary results, parties will then have a chance to challenge the result, at which point the nine-member NEC will be given 48 hours to consider their complaints and rule on the challenge. In the case that its preliminary results are not challenged, the NEC will release final election results by August 16, Mr. Nytha said.
But in the almost certain event that a challenge is made to the legitimacy of the NEC’s preliminary election results, an appeal can be filed with the Constitutional Council of Cambodia, which will then have roughly 20 days to hand down a final decision on the results of the national election.
Mr. Nytha said that if an appeal is lodged with the nine-member Constitutional Council, a final decision by the council would need to be handed down by September 8 at the latest.
In the closest election result since 1998, both the CPP and CNRP have claimed victory.
On the night of the election, the CPP announced that it had triumphed with 68 National Assembly seats to 55 for the CNRP. Two days later, Mr. Rainsy, citing information gathered by his party at polling stations, claimed that his party won the election with 63 seats to 60 for the ruling party.
The CNRP reports on irregularities, according to a letter sent to the NEC by CNRP president Sam Rainsy on Monday, relate to allegations that thousands of names were inexplicably deleted from voter lists prior to the election, that voters fraudulently cast multiple ballot papers, that falsified identification documents were used and that there was a lack of transparency in how votes were counted and recorded by the NEC.
Mr. Rainsy’s letter said that the CNRP would divulge evidence in support of its claims once the NEC established an investigating committee that involved the U.N. as an independent adjudicator between the CPP and CNRP.
The CNRP holds that the NEC, which is stacked with members loyal to the CPP, is incapable of conducting an independent investigation into what it alleges was widespread election fraud committed by the CPP.
CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun said Wednesday that he did not know exactly what was contained within his party’s reports to the NEC, but he said that he had “received a big pile” of irregularities on his desk in recent days.
Among the accusations that Mr. Vun said the CPP has evidence of is that CNRP members incited voters outside of a polling station in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district to destroy two military police trucks.
Mr. Vun also said that the CPP has photographic evidence of Mr. Rainsy conducting illegal election-day campaigning by visiting polling stations with an entourage that included people wearing hats emblazoned with the CNRP logo.
Lastly, Mr. Vun said that the CPP had “received information that CNRP activists prevented many people with white skin, suspected of being Vietnamese, from voting.”
“I am not making allegations against anyone, but we have investigated these cases and we have evidence to prove it,” Mr. Vun added.
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights issued its own statement Wednesday raising concerns over the lack of transparency in the NEC’s counting of votes.
According to the statement, the NEC’s failure to provide independent monitors any access to actual 1102 forms—the sheets of paper on which election officials recorded results at individual polling stations on election day—made it impossible for outside monitors and political parties to assess the accuracy of figures later released by the NEC.
“The NEC should make the original 1102 forms available to neutral observers in order to instill confidence in the legitimacy of the election results, rather than fueling suspicions about election fraud,” the statement says.
The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel), along with a number of other election monitors and civil society bodies, has previously called for the NEC to release the 1102 forms along with polling station voter lists in order to check if voters were registered in multiple locations.
Comfrel has also asked to see so-called Identity Cards for Elections documents, which were issued by local officials to voters who did not have proper identification on election day, so that they can investigate any potential identity fraud.
Koul Panha, executive director of Comfrel, said the NEC is not equipped to investigate the scale of irregularities suspected to have occurred during the national election.
“The NEC does not have proper investigation mechanisms. They receive complaints and send them to the NEC hearing just like that. They have never conducted an investigation into irregularities,” he said.
“I don’t understand how they can conduct a proper investigation” in such a short time, he continued. “They should invite the two parties to agree on an investigative team.”
King Norodom Sihamoni called Wednesday for a peaceful solution to disputes following the election.
“The results of the election will be officially announced between the 14th of August and September 8th by the National Election Committee,” King Sihamoni said in a statement.
“For the great benefit of the country and our people, and to maintain peace and national stability, I would like to call for both parties, that the people voted for, with the seats in the fifth mandate of the National Assembly, please continue to discuss and seek a peaceful solution for disputes or remaining problems,” the King said.
© 2013, All rights reserved.