The National Election Committee (NEC) has since the July 23 national election received 35 complaints – 33 filed in Phnom Penh over the alleged inciting of voters to spoil ballots, and two others on July 22 and July 24. The NEC heard the complaints on the afternoon of July 25.

NEC spokesman Som Sorida told The Post that the complaint of July 22 was filed with a commune election commission in Pailin province, while that of July 24 was received in Banteay Meanchey province.

The relevant commune election commissions were addressing the complaints, he noted.

“If the complainants refuse to accept reconciliation, they can bring their cases to the provincial election commissions.

“The election commissions in Pailin and Banteay Meanchey provinces will address these complaints at the appropriate time,” Sorida said.

Twenty-one of the 33 complaints were filed during the campaign period, he added, with the NEC holding a hearing on July 25 for individuals alleged to have broken Article 142 of the election law by inciting voters to spoil ballots.

The offence carries punishments of fines, omission from the voter list and removal of the right to stand in an election for at least five years.

In Banteay Meanchey province, police arrested Chao Veasna, a former opposition commune chief, over allegedly inciting voters to invalidate ballots.

Veasna was arrested on July 23 in Poipet town while escaping in a car, according to AMS news.

Meanwhile, on the morning of July 24, a native of Kampong Cham province, Soy Utdom, came forward to admit wrongdoing.

The 29-year-old said on Facebook that at 7:44am on the July 23 election day, a third person had used his Soy Utdom-named Telegram account to incite voters to spoil their ballots.

“I am sorry for this huge mistake in allowing a third person to seize an opportunity to create storms and cause chaos on election day.

“I condemn Sam Rainsy, and I beg for understanding and clemency over my wrongdoing,” the Facebook post said.

On Telegram on the night of July 23, Prime Minister Hun Sen said police had already identified those who had spoiled ballots.

Telling them not to fear, he instructed them to come forward as spoiling ballots was a punitive offence.

“Those who wake up, please hurry to the nearest place to do so and confess to the authorities, or otherwise face the legal consequences,” he said.