Cambodia: An Appeal for Quick Recounting of Votes


Urgent Appeal Case: UA0826

Just a month ago, 26 July 1998, Cambodia help its elections for the National State Assembly. Immidiately after the counting ended on the 27th, two opposition parties made complaints to the National Election Commission (NEC) calling for recounts in some communes. The election commision however failed to comply with their legal obligation to carry out such a recount and announced the results.

Ever since the the oposition has agitated for compliance with their requests. The opposition reprerentatives even slept in the compound of the NEC to guard the ballot boxes. Last week a grenade was thrown at the crowds gathering at the road near NEC, killing one person. Just two days after that a large crowd of more than ten thousand persons have demonstrated in the streets demanding the recount

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Committee for Free and Fair Election [COMFREL] gave following reasons for a need of recounts in some communes:

\” Based on COMFREL’s close observation of the recounting process, the procedures and organization for recounting require improvement. The recounts of eight communes suffered from serious technical deficiencies.

· No one seemed in overall charge of the operation.

· There seemed to be no planning or scheduling for the recounts, making it impossible for observers and political party representatives to properly schedule their attendance.

· There were great delays and even cancellations in conducting recounts, resulting in observers and political parties waiting for many hours and sometimes missing the recounts entirely.

· The site of counting was sometimes changed without informing the observers, resulting in observers missing the recounts. Some recounting rooms were too small and completely unsuitable for observers.

· Some NEC personnel running recounts did not make adequate provision for observers.

· The recounting process took too much time – more than a week to recount only eight communes. It was halted for time reasons even before the NEC’s planned 10 communes were recounted.\”

AHRC OBSERVER REPORTS: The eye witness account of an AHRC observer of the rally held on the 23 August 1998 is as follows.

There were more foreigners, specially from the media. When the demonstration started at 7.00 O’clock and there were only about 1000 people participating but, the next hour more people keep joining. After about 2 hours the participation rose to more than 10,000 for the meeting at the Stadium. Sam Rainsy came at 8.00 and more vehicles (trucks) came with full of people. The military check points have stopped the vehicles coming from Kompong Speu, Kandal and Kompong Cham. Military personnel had asked them to go back but, later allowed them to enter the city.

There were representatives from UN, Human Rights workers, Embassy people, Red Cross and about 100 monks. Finally, Sam Rainsy and Funcinpec leaders gave their speeches (Ranariddh did not participate). The rally was due to head to the Interior Ministry where NEC is located and after to the SRP headquarters. But, they could not go beyond the stadium because the police at the Independence Monument stop the rally. Sam Rainsy said since we don’t want to have more troubles, we will only run the rally through the roads around Stadium. On the way more people joint the demonstration and finally there were more than 15,000 people.

I believe, the demonstration is very very successful and good. People seem happy that they have a good leader to direct them without having abandoned. They showed up the boards and thousands of banners saying: \”We need democracy\” \”Our votes were stolen\” and \”Stop election coverage & recount the ballots\”, etc. in Khmer and in Englishl. However, the rally was peaceful, people enjoyed, spoke out what they really need; Shouted loudly saying The rally finished at 10.00am.

The opposition demand is just and would be allowed in any country following fair procedure in these matter.


Kassie Neou Vice-Chairman National Election Committee (NEC) Phnom Penh Cambodia Telephone: +855-18-811-257 Fax: +855-23-217350


Diplomatic representatives of Cambodia accredited to your Country


Please write to the National Election Committee to comply with their legal obligations.

Suggested Letter

Dear Chairperson, Since the counting of votes on the 27th July after the voting for the election of National Assembly, there had been dispute of the counting in some places and demand made on your commission to do a recount in these places. I understand that the your committee ( NEC) is the authorized legal body to carry out such a request. The delaying compplaince on your part led to considerable unrest and at least one person had died. In order to prevent further unrest and to create credibility to the process of elections your compliance with the legal obligations is necessary. We urge you to take speedy action to bring this matter to a peaceful settlement.

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA0826
Countries : Cambodia,