Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Tuesday, 29 July 2008 15:21 UK

EU criticises Cambodia election

By Guy Delauney
BBC News, Phnom Penh

Counting votes at a polling station in Siem Reap province, Cambodia (27/07/2008)
EU monitors said thousands of people were prevented from voting

Monitors from the European Union say Cambodia's recent general election fell short of international standards.

They said the governing party dominated the media and the National Election Committee (NEC), and tens of thousands of people were disenfranchised.

But they also praised the smooth running of what was described as a "technically good" election.

The EU observers were among 17,000 local and international monitors who observed the election.

While their findings were a mixed bag, there was certainly more criticism than praise.

The key issue was impartiality and the role of the governing Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

Large majority

The EU team said the CPP had made "consistent and widespread" use of state resources for its own campaigning efforts.

The party dominated media coverage to an unacceptable degree, and the presence of officials connected to the CPP on the NEC compromised that institution's independence.

The monitors said the NEC had disenfranchised 50,000 registered voters by allowing their names to be removed from the electoral roll.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen after casting his vote at a polling station in a suburb of Phnom Penh (27/07/08)

But the EU's chief observer, Martin Callanan, said that had not affected the result of the election.

"Under the provisional results that have been published, the CPP clearly has a very large majority," he said.

"Therefore any irregularities which were proved would have to be on a very large scale in order to invalidate that result.''

The opposition parties beg to differ.

Four of them have rejected the provisional results, which give the CPP an overall majority.

They claim that hundreds of thousands of their supporters were unable to vote and that similar numbers of ineligible people were allowed to cast ballots.

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