Election Committee Rejects Candlelight Complaint Due to Lack of Specifics

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Chao Ratanak, Candlelight Party’s commune chief candidate in Poipet commune, outside her house on May 14, 2022. (Matt Surrusco/VOD)

The Candlelight Party’s Poipet candidate Chao Ratanak has filed a complaint alleging election-day irregularities, but the local election committee said it rejected the document because it lacked names and evidence.

Ratanak, who ran for commune chief in Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet commune, raised allegations of village chiefs, deputies and guards being stationed at all 29 polling places in the commune to intimidate people to vote for the ruling CPP. She also alleged that Candlelight monitors were not allowed to observe vote-counting in some cases.

However, Kim Heak, the head of Poipet’s commune election committee, said she had rejected the complaint because it was too broad and didn’t identify any individuals.

She needed the complainant to add names and evidence, but they had left before she could talk to them, she added. “They just dropped off the complaint and went away. How would I be able to explain? They demanded that I immediately accept it.”

On Wednesday, Candlelight’s Ratanak responded that she could produce evidence if needed. “If they accept [the complaint] and demand the evidence, we will show it. But they rejected it and did not accept the complaint.”

Election NGO Nicfec’s head, Sam Kuntheamy, said the complaint should show the evidence and identify individuals involved to avoid both sides “splashing water on each other.”

If clear evidence was provided and the commune election committee still rejected the complaint, the complainant can appeal to higher committees, he said.

National Election Committee spokesperson Hang Puthea said that the national body had received 10 complaints as of Tuesday. The NEC was looking into the complaints, he said.

In Poipet commune, the Candlelight Party won three commune council seats out of 11, Ratanak said.

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