CPP Letters on Polling Station Staff Training Raise Red Flags

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CPP supporters in Phnom Penh on May 21, 2022. (Hean Rangsey/VOD)
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Two ambiguously worded letters from CPP Phnom Penh members calling for polling station staffers to attend training ahead of the June election have sparked concern from opposition parties saying the letters appeared to be inviting NEC officials to receive ruling party guidance.

The first letter is sent by Nget Chathavy, head of the CPP’s Phnom Penh municipal office, asking the party’s Prampi Makara and Sen Sok offices to invite the “head of the polling station,” “deputy head of the polling station” and “secretary of the polling station” for refresher training on May 22 ahead of the election.

The second letter is signed by Chea Pisey, on behalf of the CPP’s Toul Kork district office, and asks people holding the same three positions as above in Boeng Kak II commune to attend a similar training on May 22.

The letters, seen by VOD, do not detail the kind of training nor clearly states if the invited staffers are linked to the party or the NEC. Two opposition parties cast doubts on whether the CPP was calling election officials to get trained.

Chathavy denied the allegation and said the CPP was only training its own internal staff, which had nothing to do with the NEC.

“This is the party’s internal affairs,” he said. “This is nothing related to the NEC. It seems like teachers will teach students to pass exams. Yes, all are party members.”

Articles 34 and 35 of the Law on Organization and Operation of the National Election Committee states that each polling station will have one head, one deputy head, one secretary and three other members, who are to be picked from citizens or low-level civil servants in the constituency, and excludes military, court and police officials, among others.

Son Chhay, vice president of the Candlelight Party, was skeptical of the letters and said the CPP training NEC officials would affect the integrity and results of the election.

“What action will the NEC take when a political party calls election officials to meet and give them advice? What action will be taken? Whether this is happening in these few districts or across the country?” Chhay said.

Yem Ponhearith, head of the Kampucheaniyum Party, said it was “worrisome and regrettable” if NEC officers were involved in the training. “It seems like a political party will interfere in an independent and neutral establishment,” he said.

NEC spokesperson Hang Puthea cast doubts on the authenticity of the letters, denied the election body was involved in the training, and said that officials had yet to be selected to staff the voting offices.

“NEC has not recruited officials for election offices yet. There will be exams only till May 25,” he said.

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