The Sam Rainsy Party has accused the National Election Committee of withholding the identity cards of more than 400 people in Battambang province, making them ineligible to vote in the July 27 elections.
Eng Chhay Eang, the opposition party’s secretary-general, on Tuesday wrote a letter to the NEC asking that the people of Sangke district’s Tapon and Roka communes be issued their proper documents, despite NEC claims that their photographs were ruined during the printing process. “I would like the NEC’s chairman to allow village and commune authorities to deliver documents as soon as possible,” Eng Chhay Eang said.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha conceded Wednesday that the people’s photos had been damaged while in the voting authority’s care, but promised they would be able to vote.
“We called on people whose photos are damaged to make new [documents] by bringing one photo and two witnesses to the commune election committee to assure they did [apply for identification cards]. We will do for them and let them have the right to vote,” he said.
Tep Nitha said the mistake would be investigated but would not promise to issue new identifications before elections. He said such a move could spur a flood of applicants who have the cards but would like newer versions.
Sam Rainsy Party Deputy Secretary-General Meng Rita lashed out Wednesday: “The NEC intentionally damaged the photos because those people are mostly Sam Rainsy Party supporters. Why not damage the photo of the CPP’s supporters?”
Last weekend an opposition news release headlined “Another Intimidation Instrument Shows Its Ugly Head” derided the NEC and the government for allowing government officials, particularly village chiefs, to serve as election monitors.
The statement quoted Sam Rainsy Party Senator Ou Bun Long as saying, “This means that those village chiefs can be present in voting stations to keep their watchful eyes over those they know would not vote for the ruling party.”