Report Says Election Results Not Reflective of People’s Will

Transparency International Cambodia (TIC) on Thursday concluded in a report that official results of the July 28 national election released by the National Election Committee (NEC) do not reflect the will of the people due to widespread irregularities occurring both before and on election day.

The report, which is based on observations from 906 observers sent to monitor 409 polling stations in Cambodia’s 24 provinces and municipalities, states that voters with proper identification documents were unable to find their names on the voter list and were turned away at 60 percent of stations.

“Due to problematic pre-election conditions and voting process irregularities experienced, TIC cannot express with confidence that the outcome of the election reflects the will of the Cambodian people,” the report says.

The organization flagged a number of issues including the questionable use of the Identification Certificate for Elections (ICE) form, which is issued to people who have lost or do not have an ID card allowing them to vote.

Despite repeated requests from concerned monitors, the NEC has refused to divulge the com­mune-level distribution numbers for ICE forms—something observers have said is problematic due to the possible fraudulent use of such forms. According to election observers, approximately 1 million ICE forms were issued between the end of the voter registration period and election day.

According to TIC, ICE forms were used to vote in 93 percent of the observed polling stations. In 11 percent of polling stations, 51 or more people used ICEs to vote.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said he had not read the re­port though he noted that commune-level ICE information was posted in communes before the elections.

“During distribution of ICEs, the NEC did not know who were supporters of the CPP or CNRP,” he said.

Although the CNRP and CPP earlier this week agreed to establish a bipartisan committee to discuss electoral reforms, TIC’s executive director in Cambodia, Preap Kol, said that the committee exists only “in principle” and urged donor countries to consider Cambodia’s need for electoral reform when examining future aid funding.

“We want donors to include bench­mark indicators regarding electoral reform,” he said, “and one of those conditions should be for financial assistance…. For the U.S. and E.U., that’s the only leverage they have.”

The report’s recommendations include a call for the dismantling of the NEC along with a reform of the election law.

(Additional reporting by Eang Mengleng)

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