Poll Group Wants World to Wait for Fraud Investigation

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.



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