Friday, April 6, 2007

Voting Day Peaceful but Mired in Irregularities

Press Release

PHNOM PENH, 6 April 07: The Center for Social Development (“CSD”) would like to acknowledge the peaceful and generally orderliness of the April 1 commune council elections, and to congratulation the National Elections Committee (“NEC”) for its role in contributing to this peaceful and orderly atmosphere.

On Election Day, CSD had 100 observers stationed across fifteen provinces and municipalities along with five other mobile observers across the country.Despite the peaceful atmosphere of Election Day, we witnessed and noted irregularities regarding the election process generally and particularly in many polling stations.

The voting process imposed by National Election Committee is so complicated and not simplified at all for voters. Many people have not received information cards delivered by NEC. If they have these documents, they can not find polling stations and their order numbers. Others have information cards but can not find their names on voting list. The agents of polling station offices (“PSO”) did not understand the voting process and they sometimes didn’t want to cooperate with voters in finding their names and order numbers. The names and date of birth of voters on voting list were different from information cards and sometimes regrettably confused, that makes complication and discouragement to voters.

In many polling stations, number of voters was less than it had on voting list. So, the participation is lower than the first mandate of Commune Council Elections in 2002. According to the NEC, only 65% of 7.8 million names registered on the voting list actually voted.

Local authorities, police men, military police men with their uniforms, village chiefs and commune councils stayed in front of and inside polling stations which violated security perimeter which could have created an inhibitive environment for the voters.

In certain polling stations, CSD’s observers were not allowed to monitor the elections even though they possess NEC-issued observer cards.During Elections Day and counting process, the 105 CSD’s observers have noticed following irregularities:
  • 1. Elections day
    - Agents of Polling Station Offices (PSO) didn’t understand the voting process.
    - Chaos and confusion prevail at several polling stations.
    - Agents of PSO were not helpful and cooperative with voters in finding their names.
    - Agents of PSO use mobile phones during the voting and counting process.
    - Agents of PSO told order numbers and political party logos to voters.
    - Police men and military police men were standing inside the perimeter of polling stations forbidden by election regulations.
    - Village chiefs and communal council members stayed inside polling stations which is prohibited by law.
    - People in military uniforms came to vote.
    - Agents of PSO did not allow people to vote, when orthography of their names were little different.
    - There existed confusion with regards to voter’s names.
    - Voters had their information cards corresponding to that polling station, but their names were not on voting list.
    - Voters had their information cards, but couldn’t find corresponding polling stations and their order numbers.
    - Many voters had only information cards, but not well informed enough on voting process.
    - Agents of PSO allowed people who didn’t have the right to vote to ink their fingers.
    - In many polling stations, voters turnout very low.
    - Agents of PSO not allowed CSD’s observers to enter into polling stations.

  • 2. Counting process
    - Agents of security were standing by and looked at counting ballot through windows
    - Agent of PSO did not declare officially the transitional result of elections
    - Observers of political parties were not allowed to sign on transitional result
    - In front of political party, national and international observers, the counting process was too fast.

More information, please contact:Ms. Theary C. SENG, Executive Director 012. 222. 552Dr. IM Francois, Head of Elections & Parliamentary Unit 012. 376. 301Mr. IM Sophea, Executive Assistant 016. 888. 552 About the Center for Social DevelopmentThe Center for Social Development (“CSD”) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. CSD was established in Phnom Penh since 1995 (recognized by the Council of Ministers in 1995 and the Ministry of Interior in 2001) and seeks to promote democratic values and improve the quality of life of the Cambodian people.The mission of CSD is to encourage broad participation (at both national and local levels) in public affairs, develop a respect for human rights and the rule of law, enhance transparency and accountability in the public sphere, and raise awareness of issues of national concern through all forms of media. CSD has five main operational units and 2 new projects to carry out this mission: (i) Legal, (ii) Governance, (iii) Public Forum, (iv) Elections & Parliamentary, (v) Research & Publications, (vi) i-REACH Kep Pilot Project, and (vii) Voice of Justice Program.

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