Friday, August 29, 2008

Reports about the not so fair election

Earlier this month, The Asian Network for Free Elections, ANFREL, and the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, COMFREL, released reports about the general election. Both organisations concludes that the election was not fair.

ANFREL and COMFREL both reports that the general pre-election environment was peaceful in most areas. However, ANFREL reports that lack of campaign finance regulations created an unfair environment that clearly favoured the ruling party, CPP. ANFREL also reports that vote buying was used prevalently, and that there was a problem with politically aligned media, particularly the state media promoting CPP. They also reports about children being used in campaigning by both CPP and SRP. When David and I visited the orphanage he was working at in 2003 and 2004 the week before the election, many of the children where wearing caps and T-shirts with the CPP logo, and one of the children told us how CPP activists came to pick them up in big trucks for the campaigning.

According to ANFREL's report, election administrators did their job without any complaints, but the National Election Committee, NEC, was not perceived as impartial by a majority of electoral stakeholders. COMFREL however, reports of 207 cases of polling station officials not complying with the electoral Procedures and Regulations.

COMFREL reports that some political party activists, particularly of CPP, provided large-scale transportation or money to voters in "order to stimulate them to vote for their particular party" (which we saw one case of in Svay Rieng).

Both ANFREL and COMFREL reports about the misuse of "Form 1018". This is an alternative to an identification card available to Cambodian citizens. ANFREL reports that many official authorities issued this form to non-citizens in order to increase the number of votes for CPP.

ANFREL and COMFREL both addresses the problems with the voter lists. Particularly in Phnom Penh, many voters could not find their names on the voter list even though they had been registered and their names were present on the list prior to the election. ANFREL estimates that about 50‐60,000 of voters were unable to enjoy their right to vote. According to COMFREL, there were more serious irregularities affecting people’s voting rights this year than in previous elections.

Many voters made complaints about problems to CEC (the local branch of NEC), but ANFREL reports that many CEC members were unwilling to assist in finding a solution. COMFREL reports that 42% of the complaints to CEC were rejected, but none of the complaints filed by CPP were rejected.

The reports can be read here:
ANFREL's report
COMFREL's report

On August 12th, COMFREL published a joint statement on "The 2008 National Assembly Elections and Priority Recommendations for Electoral Reform" together with the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, CHRAC, the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, NICFEC, and the People’s Forum on Cambodian-Japan, PEFOC,J. That statement can be find here.

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