The UN itself was careful to point out that it was not observing or evaluating the election itself, but merely coordinating the efforts of observer groups from various countries through an ad hoc group called the JIOG.
Phnom Penh, 27 July, 1998
The time has now come to present the JIOG's assessment of Polling and Counting Procedures, based on the reports received from the JIOG's almost 500 International Observers in the field. A consolidated statement will be made at a later stage, when these Observers have been debriefed after their return to Phnom Penh and their full Reports have been thoroughly analyzed.
The JIOG believes that the atmosphere and procedures of Polling Day and Counting Day in the 1998 Election arranged by the Cambodians themselves, represent a major achievement and step forward compared with similar circumstances during the 1993 Cambodian Parliamentary Elections. The JIOG commends and applauds the National Election Committee and through it all Election workers in the country for impressive work done in a short period of time and under difficult circumstances. In addition, the JIOG wished to warmly praise the dedicated work of trained national observers, such as COMFREL, COFFEL and NICFEC, in connection with the election.
The reports received by the JIOG thus far have been, in the main, encouraging. The climate on Polling Day and Counting Day was peaceful and calm.
In general the polling achieved democratic standards and on the day it appears that people felt able to vote without fear of reprisal. Except for the shameful attack Sunday morning in Anlong Veng, with deplorable loss of human lives, no serious cases of violence have been reported nor, at this stage, any serious irregularities that could have a significant effect on the integrity of the voting process. The very high number of registered voters who turned up at Polling Stations to cast their ballot has yet again given a clear signal to Cambodian leaders and the International Community alike that the Cambodian people are embracing democracy and are determined to decide their own political future.
Against this background, it is the impression of the JIOG that what could be observed by us on Polling Day and Counting Day was a process which was free and fair to an extent that enables it to reflect, in a credible way, the will of the Cambodian people. In the end efforts to intimidate sections of the Cambodian population appear not to have significantly influenced the conduct or the climate of polling day itself.
The JIOG will continue to observe the Electoral Process in the most thorough way possible. We would like to underline again that respect for the principles of Human Rights must be observed in that process, and that no violations of those principles can be acceptable to the International Community.
The JIOG believes that all parties should accept and honor the results of the election without any attempt to undermine the original outcome.
The JIOG would also like to underline, that its final conclusions on the Electoral Process will be subject to full acceptance of the voters' verdict through appropriate conduct in the post-election period by all parties and subject to the vote tabulation and complaints and appeals processes being carried out satisfactorily. If the results are respected in this way, the 1998 Parliamentary Elections will mark a major step forward in this country's democratic development.
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