A group of Asian poll monitors has urged the international community to reserve judgment on last month’s elections until opposition poll complaints have been fully investigated.
The Asian Network for Free Elections, whose members acted as monitors in last month’s election, requested Tuesday that the National Election Committee and the Constitutional Council look again at opposition allegations of irregularities and fraud.
“Anfrel calls on the international community to reconsider any judgment on the Cambodian elections until major issues related to the exercise have been resolved,” a group statement said.
The Constitutional Council, the final appeals body for election complaints, refused to order any recounts, after opposition parties had asked for them in about half of the nation’s 1,600 commune-level counting centers.
The Asian monitoring group, whose members come from Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh, said this outright rejection was unacceptable.
“The arbitrary decision not to hear the 800 complaints of various cases of violation of election laws renders the results even more doubtful,” Anfrel said. “[It] puts both the NEC and the CC’s credibility and reputation in question.”
The group called for public hearings and a “clear, transparent and participatory process” to resolve the problems. All those involved in the allegations should be included in the investigations, it said.
The monitors also asked the key election bodies to reconsider a controversial seat allocation formula the opposition claims was illegally adopted. The formula ensures the biggest party, the CPP, gets more seats in the National Assembly.
“This decision…is seen as an easy solution for the ruling party’s bid to get a majority.”
Confusion over the seat allocation formula led the Thai government to decline reaction to Tuesday’s official election results, the Nation newspaper reported Thursday, quoting Foreign Ministry spokesman Kobsak Chutikul.
He said the situation was still confusing because the opposition had rejected the formula. But he added the government was watching closely the Thursday meeting between King Norodom Sihanouk and Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, the newspaper said.
“Therefore, we will wait for the result of the meeting today as there will probably be some change in the situation,” he was reported as saying.
Thailand nevertheless supported the Joint International Observer Group statement declaring the elections free and fair, he added.
National Election Committee Chairman Chheng Phon issued a statement Tuesday as the official results were announced, thanking all those involved in the election process and asking all parties to accept the results.
“This is the best act of the people, all political parties should accept the wishes of the voters,” he said.
Chheng Phon also praised voters for demanding “peace and freedom.” According to a summary of the meeting provided by Human Rights Watch, Sanderson held the view that the election had not been free and fair, and that the government lacked a genuine commitment to the rights of individual Cambodians. He argued that Australia’s long-term policy toward Cambodia should be to oppose authoritarianism.
Kevin spoke of the dangers of demonizing one side of Cambodian politics. In the past, he has defended Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Osborne said Australia could not wash its hands of Cambodia completely, but that this did not mean the Australian government should only highlight the positive elements without also mentioning the negative parts of the elections.