NEC Chairman Questioned

Opposition Claims Queries Unsettled

The beleaguered National Election Committee on Thursday remained under fire by leaders of the top two opposition parties. 

Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy, president of his self-named party, appealed to Chheng Phon, the low-profile chairman of the committee.

The one-page letter came two days after the NEC officially washed its hands of the last of more than 800 complaints it received. Prince Ranariddh, Sam Rainsy and democracy activists have said they are not satisfied with the NEC’s investigative work or stunted efforts at re-counting.

The letter scolds Chheng Phon for the NEC’s unresponsiveness.

“Several important questions remain unanswered,” it states.

They attempted to appeal to Chheng Phon’s reputation as a spiritual Buddhist. He operates a meditation center in Takhmau.

“As a deeply religious man, Your Excellency, you should not be afraid of bringing truth out into the light,” they wrote.

Prince Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy asked Chheng Phon to explain why only eight of 1,570 communes were re-counted.

“Do you believe a recount of 0.5 percent of the total vote, taking place with days of advance notice for election organizers, can prove that miscounting or fraud did not alter the results of the election?” they wrote.

Chheng Phon was asked why the formula used to allocate National Assem­bly seats was changed between May 25 and 29.

“We have received no response to a letter dated August 10 rejecting the changed formula,” the party leaders wrote.

Samraing Kamsan, spokesman for Chheng Phon, said Thursday that he had not seen a copy of the letter and accused the opposition leaders of stirring up trouble. He said the NEC found no evidence to support opposition claims. But he acknowledged some shortcomings in the NEC’s work.

“What the NEC has done is not 100 percent victory,” he said. “There have been minor problems, but it will not affect the results of the elections.”

Sik Bun Hock, legal adviser to the NEC, said Thursday the 1998 poll compared favorably to the 1993 UN-run vote. “There were even several thousand complaints during the Untac election that were unresolved,” he said.

The letter also asked Chheng Phon to inform the public about the NEC’s “secret” contract with the Argentine firm Ciccone Calo­graphica SA, and its Israeli partner, Malam Systems, Ltd; and why Second Prime Minister Hun Sen stood as a candidate without formally resigning as co-commander in chief of the RCAF.

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