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Five civil groups and NGOs also published a joint statement underlining several election irregularities
PHNOM PENH – The National Election Committee (NEC) received more than 10 complaints from political parties who participated in the commune–sangkat council elections held on June 5, according to Hang Puthea, spokesperson for the NEC.
The NEC gave the commune–sangkat election committee three days to resolve the complaints. If the resolution at the commune level does not reach a result, then the complaint will be sent to the NEC, Hang Puthea told ThmeyThmey.
“When the primary results [were] released, those who [were] unsatisfied with the result [could] file a complaint [until] June 6 at 12 a.m. The complaint will be resolved by the commune–sangkat election committee within three days,” said Puthea.
He added that if the complaint is about incorrect ballot counting and cannot reach reconciliation or resolution at a lower level, the ballot at the location will be counted again.
As for the number of invalid ballots, no data is available at the moment as the verifying process is still underway, Puthea said.
On top of the complaints from political parties, a joint statement issued by several civil society groups, NGOs and rights organizations –Central, Youth Resource Development Program, Comfrel, Adhoc– underlines irregularities in the voting process.
It mentions the overwhelming presence of authorities’ representatives, village or commune chiefs, police officers, candidates, who were standing in the polling station.
The signatories have also observed that some citizens couldn’t vote because their names could not be found on the voting list, or their identification documents were not valid.
The statement adds that the ballot counting process at some polling stations was obscured and lacked transparency, such as closing the gates, doors and windows of the polling stations.
“Observers were barred from attending or recording the counting of ballots at polling stations 304, Trapeang Pring and 0065, Seda, in Tbong Khmum province,” the statement reads.
The NEC has announced that following the election, the top four political parties are the Cambodia People’s Party (CPP), the Candlelight Party (CLP), the FUNCINPEC, and the Khmer National United Party.
According to the announced preliminary results, the CPP received 5,337,754 votes or 74.32 percent, and the CLP received 1,610,434 votes accounting for 22.26 percent.
As a result, the CPP won more than 8,630 commune council seats while the CLP won around 2,500 seats. But when it comes to commune chief positions, the CPP secured at least 1,648 of them while the CLP got only four seats.
The election turnout was 80.19 percent, which represents 7,382,449 voters, out of more than 9,200,000 registered voters.
In the 4th commune–sangkat council ballot in 2017, more than 10 percent of the votes were invalid. In most cases, people do not choose any political party, cross or mark the ballot.
On June 6, the Candlelight Party already published a statement to express its regrets over the preliminary results of the Commune election. During a press conference, the party’s Vice President Thach Setha said that some of its observers were threatened while monitoring the election process.
In response, the NEC issued a statement on June 7, stating that the only people allowed to enter the polling stations during the counting of the votes were NEC counting officials, official observers, party agents, security agents and rescue agencies.
Additional reporting by Sam Sopich