NEC Stands Firm, Will Not Hold Independent Election Inquiry
By and | August 7, 2013

The National Election Committee (NEC) on Tuesday stood firmly behind its refusal to consider a proposal by the opposition CNRP for an independent investigation into the July 28 national ballot.

Statements sent between the CNRP and NEC—the last day for political parties to file reports of election irregularities—made it clear that both sides have not come any closer to breaking a political impasse that the opposition party says is necessary before it will accept defeat in the election.

“Regarding documents proving election irregularities occurred during the fifth mandate of National Assembly election held on July 28, 2013, the Cambodia National Rescue Party will disclose [them publicly] when a special committee is created to investigate the irregularities and evaluate the impact of the election result,” a letter sent Tuesday from CNRP president Sam Rainsy to NEC President Im Suosdey says.

The letter proposes that the NEC play the role of coordinator of the investigation into the CNRP’s accusations of widespread cheating and fraud on the part of the ruling CPP, and allow the U.N. to step into the role of arbitrator between the two parties.

In response, the NEC sent a letter to the CNRP saying that political parties, election monitors and international observers would only be invited to “monitor” an NEC sub-committee tasked with conducting the investigation.

“The NEC very much regrets not being able to meet your request to create a special committee as Your Excellency has requested,” the letter says.

“However, the NEC will try to settle the irregularities on election day in accordance with legal mechanisms, existing directives and procedures as well as the creation of a sub-committee in compliance with internal rules of the NEC and participation through monitoring by representatives of contesting political parties, national and international election observers,” the NEC’s response says.

On the night of the election, the CPP claimed victory with 68 National Assembly seats to 55 for the CNRP. Two days later, Mr. Rainsy claimed that his party won the election with 63 seats to 60 for the ruling party.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said that although it has yet to review all of the complaints that have been filed with commune and provincial election committees, the NEC planned to push ahead with releasing official preliminary re­sults on Saturday, and official final results in September.

“It doesn’t matter how many reports political parties and civil society submit, we will try our best to settle them and we will release final [preliminary] results by August 10 even if there is a challenge from political parties,” Mr. Nytha said.

“The NEC will stick with the time­table and will not delay over the date on which final results will be announced. It will be released, according to the timetable, no later than September 8,” he added.

CNRP chief whip Son Chhay said that the opposition party would be willing to play a role in choosing which group is tasked with conducting the investigation, but would not settle for an inquiry led by the NEC, or an investigating committee composed of only the NEC and the two political parties.

“They need to meet us halfway. We can discuss who [the independent investigator] would be. Any neutral organization or group who has the ability to conduct this investigation could be considered,” he said.

“We will look to any possibility to find justice for the public, but to have two out of three members under the CPP, we have no hope of finding a situation that would be acceptable to both the CPP and us.”

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It’s dinnertime at My Furry Place. Dogs of all shapes and sizes follow the whiff of brown rice and beef liver into the kitchen of Elma Placido, the owner of this pet sitting business in Phnom Penh. In an adjacent room, about eight cats are perched on any bit of furniture they can find.

One man was killed and two were seriously injured in Kandal province on Tuesday night after a fight broke out during a Khmer New Year party at a local pagoda, police and local officials said.

Along Phnom Penh’s industry-heavy Veng Sreng Street on Wednesday, garment factories lay idle in observance of Khmer New Year. The dorms around them were empty, save for the few workers who could not afford the bus ticket home for the holiday, which ended Wednesday.

Thirty-nine years after the Khmer Rouge took power on April 17, 1975, tribute is being paid afresh to survivors and victims of the regime with a new series of exhibitions planned at Phnom Penh’s Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former Khmer Rouge prison.

Security guards at the center of a yearlong land dispute between families in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak community and the Khun Sear Import Export Company on Wednesday accused the families of attacking them during a late-night Khmer New Year drinking party.

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