The National Election Committee (NEC) Monday’said that more than 180 suspected illegal voters—mostly Vietnamese accused by the opposition of having improperly registered—can cast ballots in the June commune elections.
The opposition said last Tuesday that it was planning to submit complaints to the NEC about almost 5,000 foreign voters—mostly Vietnamese—whom it accused of not having proper citizenship papers and argued should not be allowed to vote.
National Election Committee President Sik Bunhok, center, speaks at a news conference in Phnom Penh on Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)Some said the move was an extension of populist anti-Vietnamese rhetoric deployed by CNRP leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha throughout their political careers.
NEC president Sin Bunhok told reporters at a news conference on Monday evening that the committee would not investigate complaints against 181 people from nine communes in Phnom Penh, Kompong Chhnang, Pailin, Kompong Speu and Preah Sihanouk provinces.
“The NEC does not have authority to investigate this case,” Mr. Bunhok said, explaining that the individuals had the Cambodian identity cards necessary to register their names in commune election lists.
If those cards were provided illegally, it would be up to the Interior Ministry to look into the issue, he said.
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said the majority of complaints filed during a two-week window following the release of a provisional voter list had come from the CNRP.
He said that officials had limited time and could not follow up on all of them.
“The NEC does not have more time, like the courts,” he said, adding that the body would continue reviewing cases throughout the week.
Mr. Puthea said election officials had checked as many cases as possible.
“Between the Interior Ministry and NEC, we had a team working together, so when we provided a name to them, they had a role to respond that this name and this identity card was issued correctly,” he said.
“Starting from today, complainants will have five days to appeal to the Constitutional Council,” he added.
The CNRP said its monitors had recorded thousands of cases of people being registered without being able to speak Khmer or without necessary documents, and accused local officials of collusion.
Spokesmen for the party could not be reached last night.
sovuthy@cambodiadaily.com
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