SRP Offers Rewards for Reporting Election Fraud

The SRP announced Tuesday that it will give cash rewards to election officials who provide evidence of vote fraud or irregularities taking pla­ce on the commune election day—a move which drew criticism from officials and election mo­ni­tors.

The SRP said in a statement that election commission officials at the commune level would get $300, at the provincial level $3,000, and at the national level $30,000 for providing “clear evidence” of election irregularities or “tricks or coercion that could obstruct people from voting for their favored party.”

Officials who provide evidence will be “guaranteed secrecy,” the SRP stated, adding that the party would help officials seek asylum in the US or Europe if they later faced threats or intimidation.

The rewards are to combat bias by election officials toward the ruling party, SRP Secretary-General Mu Sochua said.

“We don’t feel secure about neutrality [of election officials],” said Mu Sochua, who claimed that no election commission member had re­ported election fraud or irregularities in past elections.

The rewards will come out of the SRP’s own funds, she said. The SRP made a similar offer during the 2003 national elections, but there were no takers, she said.

Minister of Information and gov­ern­ment spokesman Khieu Kan­ha­rith said the SRP offer was “insulting [the] consciences of election officials.”

He claimed that the SRP was simply looking to manipulate those who wanted money and a visa to live abroad.

“Don’t try to create a problem, but try fairly to win,” he added.

Tep Nytha, Secretary-General of the National Election Com­mission, said that many independent obser­vers are planning to be on hand to watch for irregularities.

Jerome Cheung, country director for the National Democratic In­sti­tute, said the SRP’s reward scheme could confuse the public, who might “question the legitimacy of anyone taking money [from a political party].”

“Observation and monitoring is better left to independent, neutral civil society organizations,” he said.

Kek Galabru, chair of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections and founder of local rights group Licadho, was skeptical of the SRP’s offer to pay election officials for work they were already being paid to do.

“Each time they give money, it will encourage people to work only for [extra] compensation,” she said.

Mar Sophal, monitoring coordinator for the Com­mittee for Free and Fair Elections, said that few, if any, instances of election fraud or irregularities had ever been reported by election officials. Many, he claimed, are affiliated with the ruling party.

(Additional reporting Pin Sisovann.)

 

 

 

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