Opposition Complains of NEC Adviser’s Bias

The two main opposition parties have complained to Cana­da’s foreign minister that a Can­adian election adviser here has shown bias toward the ruling CPP.

The letter to Minister of Ex­ternal Affairs Lloyd Axworthy is in response to a leaked confidential memorandum in which the National Election Committee’s senior technical adviser, Theo Noel, defended the NEC’s ap­proval of a controversial seat allocation formula and sharply criticized the opposition’s leadership.

“Noel’s letter indicates that he sides with the ruling party and has sided with them for some time,” Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and his opposition ally, Sam Rainsy, wrote Monday.

“If Mr Noel’s actions are representative of the role that foreign advisers played in the Cambodian elections, the implications are very serious indeed,” they wrote.

Noel’s memo to his employer, the Canadian International Devel­opment Agency, and to Canadian Ambassador Gordon Longmuir, said the new formula—which allows more “leftover” seats to be given to the party that has the most votes in each province—was legally adopted by the NEC in late May.

“There was never, at any time, attempt of manipulation as alleged by some individuals and parties,” Noel wrote in the memo. “The opposition, in my view, should now accept the results of the election gracefully and should stop identifying scapegoats to cover up their divisions and their weaknesses.

“I also think that the international community should cut short supporting the opposition claims, which up to now [have been] proven groundless.”

Noel said Monday he did not regret his remarks, only that the private memo was leaked to political parties and the press.

“This is the private opinion of myself. It was not meant for publication,” he said.

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