|Right: Tep Nytha. Phnom Penh Post photo|
28 November 2013
A group of journalists conducting an investigation into claims of irregularities in July’s general election have said they found evidence of the mass transportation of voters, ostensibly by the authorities, in at least one commune.
The findings of two Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) reports, the group said yesterday, indicate the ruling Cambodian People’s Party may have bused in outsiders to vote en masse in a commune in Prey Veng province and could have manipulated the allocation of identity cards in its favour.
In two reports released yesterday, CCIM said in Prey Veng province’s Kdoeung Reay commune the vast majority of people who voted were not eligible.
“A group of people who were transported to vote in Prey Veng province’s Kdoeung Reay commune was some 95 per cent [of all those who voted]. After voting, the strangers and Vietnamese were observed rushing to go back in the waiting vehicles,” CCIM said in a statement yesterday.
A second CCIM report released yesterday echoed evidence presented by rights groups that identity certificates issued prior to the election had led ineligible voters to cast a ballot.
Issuing the identity cards is legal, the CCIM report added, but it “seems to provide an opportunity for local authorities of the ruling party or the local influence to attract more votes” by, for example, manipulating people’s ages.
CCIM will submit its reports to the National Election Committee (NEC), including recommendations for electoral reform, in February when it has completed its investigation.
Tep Nytha, NEC secretary-general, said he would welcome the findings of the CCIM investigations but did not address the specific claim of high numbers of voters being bused in by the CPP.
“The government is committed to reform of the election system and their [CCIM’s] recommendations should be discussed.… The NEC always welcomes all recommendations, although some have no real evidence,” he said.