Two Votes Swing Contested Commune to CPP After Rowdy Recount

The CPP has won by just two votes the first contested commune from the June 4 elections brought before the national election authority, after a rowdy recount that lasted into a second day.

The count for Svay Rieng province’s Doung commune—the first of 40 contested communes—started on Monday but broke off overnight after nine hours and periodic, heated arguments between CPP and CNRP representatives who were watching the review.

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Polling station workers begin to count votes in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district on June 4. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

On Tuesday morning, the National Election Committee (NEC) got through the last 207 ballots and called it for the ruling party.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea declared 2,611 votes for the CPP to the CNRP’s 2,609.

“The NEC has counted and the result is as I informed you,” he said. “The appeal has come to an end.”

The commune had initially gone to the CNRP by three votes, but swung to the CPP by just one after the ruling party demanded a recount by the provincial election committee, prompting the opposition to demand a second recount by the NEC itself.

Mr. Puthea rejected the

CNRP’s claims from Monday that the NEC had shown favoritism toward the CPP.

“I ask the reporters: Did we favor? When we allowed everyone to have a look, we invited both sides, journalists and election observers,” he said. “It was transparent, with participation from all sides. We just followed the procedures.”

Kong Mas, a member of the CNRP’s working group in Svay Rieng, said that with no more bodies to appeal to the party had no choice but to accept the loss.

“We regret that we lost by just two ballots,” he said. “Whether or not we accept it, it’s final.”

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan was thoroughly satisfied with the result.

“We are happy and we welcome this victory,” he said. “It’s what we call justice.”

The NEC now has another 39 commune races to recount by the 25th—a slight increase from a previously given total—and it has raised doubts about finishing on time.

It will begin recounting ballots this morning from the Battambang province commune of Boeng Bram. The commune initially went to the CPP, then swung to the CNRP after a recount by the provincial election committee.

According to unofficial national election results, the CPP has won 1,158 of the country’s 1,646 communes, with all but one of the rest going to the CNRP.

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