Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Parties File Dozens of Complaints with NEC Over Commune election

Villagers vote at a polling station in Kandal province’s Takhmao city on June 5, 2022. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang
Villagers vote at a polling station in Kandal province’s Takhmao city on June 5, 2022. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang

The National Election Committee (NEC) says it has received 85 complaints regarding last weekend’s commune council election, including against election officials.

The majority of complaints related to irregularities such as closed-door ballot counting and the presence of authorities at polling stations, according to NEC spokesman Hang Puthea.

“There are complaints against some election officers that they have improperly implemented the electoral procedure,” he said.

On Tuesday, five election observer organizations released a preliminary report detailing irregularities, including the presence of armed forces at polling stations and inadequate efforts to ensure voters were properly registered.

Other complaints involved vote counters refusing to allow observers to watch the process and prohibiting people from taking photos.

In relation to the latter, a Candlelight Party member from Battambang, Ley Sokhon, was arrested on Thursday for taking a video of a CPP village chief recording voters names near a polling station on election day, according to Sat Kimsean, the Battambang provincial police chief. The Candlelight Party has condemned his arrest.

In addition, during the ballot count, some polling stations banned observers from entering, others closed their windows while counting was underway to block people from watching, while others failed to publicly display the results after counting was completed.

Thach Setha, vice president of the opposition Candlelight Party, confirmed that his party had filed about 40 complaints related to those irregularities, as well as over commune chiefs recording voter’s names and vote-buying.

“If the NEC fails to resolve these complaints, it will seriously affect the national election [in 2023], especially because the public and the international community won’t trust that NEC is independent,” Mr. Setha said.

Sam Inn, secretary general of the Grassroots Democratic Party, said they had also filed complaints, which have yet to be resolved.

“It has shown the NEC doesn’t seem to intend to resolve the problems that occurred,” Mr. Inn said, echoing Mr. Setha’s assessment that it doesn’t bode well for national elections next year.

NEC officials count voters at a polling station in Chak Angreleu pagoda, Chak Angreleu commune, Meanchey district, Phnom Penh. Photo taken on June 5, 2022. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang
NEC officials count voters at a polling station in Chak Angreleu pagoda, Chak Angreleu commune, Meanchey district, Phnom Penh. Photo taken on June 5, 2022. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang

But Mr. Puthea said that many of the cases were first being resolved at the Provincial Election Committee (PEC) level. Of the complaints – some of which were also filed by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party – about 10 are with the NEC, 20 with PEC, and 50 with the commune election committee.

The NEC has already resolved eight complaints that couldn’t be solved at the provincial level, he said.

According to preliminary results released by the National Election Committee (NEC), of the 17 political parties that took part in the June 5 polls, only the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and Candlelight Party won commune chief positions—with the CPP taking the lion’s share.

The ruling party won 1,648 out of a total 1,652 commune chief positions, while the Candlelight Party won just four—three in Kampong Thom provinces and one in Kampong Cham province.

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