The National Election Committee set up a special commission Thursday to look into reports of election fraud and intimidation, as an Asia-based observer group expressed “deep concern” over violations during voting and counting.
However, it was still unclear whether such violations, if proven true, would have influenced the outcome of the elections.
The Election Results Control Commission is chaired by Kassie Neou, the NEC vice chairman, and consists of NEC members Tip Jahnvibol, Chhoeung Kim Eng and You Kan.
Kassie Neou called Thursday for political parties with complaints to submit them to the commission by Tuesday––the deadline for appeals against the preliminary results that are to be announced Saturday.
“I have requested them to send a copy straight to me so I can make a plan and take action,” he said.
He said that demands for new elections in disputed areas will be considered if the complaints have merit. “For serious discrepancies, we go to the serious decision which is either a recount or a revote in some places,” he said.
A spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party said: “We hope to see that this is a serious effort by the NEC to investigate these complaints.” But he added that, “If they treat this like they have treated some of our previous complaints, then it is not serious.”
Also Thursday, the Asian Network for Free Elections (Anfrel), which had 45 international observers in 18 provinces, urged a full investigation into complaints of fraud and intimidation.
The group described some “major concerns,” including officials in counting stations denying observers the right to check ballots during counting. Anfrel said it observed this irregularity in Kompong Thom, Prey Veng and Siem Reap provinces, although it could not say how widespread the problem was or whether it boosted the ruling party’s votes.
“From what we have observed, we cannot tell if it is a big problem or a small problem,” Anfrel coordinator Somsri Berger said.
Another organization, the Independent International Observers Group, also called for the complaints to be fully investigated as provided for in the electoral law.
One observer from the group said he saw cases of voter intimidation in Siem Reap. “It needs to be investigated fully to see how widespread it was and what the impact on the vote would be,” said Andrew Scher.
However, another observer from the same group said that while problems did exist, he saw nothing that would change the poll results. “From what I saw, certainly there was nothing that would have affected the outcome,” David Roberts said.