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Chapter 75: IPSOs

I found out that Téphanes, who had left the mission after the new year, had returned to Cambodia as an International Polling Observer and was living with Brielle and Leannán. This good news provided some measure of assurance that Brielle would get through the polling. Téphanes’ return also meant that I had been in country so long that people who had left Cambodia were scheduled to come back.

Our IPSOs arrived, seven in all, one day before the voting began. They were extremely well-compensated foreign dignitaries and international elites, charged with observing the polling and watching for any discrepancies that could invalidate the outcome of the election. I picked them up in the early morning, already bright and hot, to take them through a mock election day schedule.

The Tunisian IPSOs were late, claiming that they didn’t know the meeting time. The Norwegian in the group greeted me with the questions, “Breakfast, where is breakfast? Will we get breakfast when we get to our polling station?” His concern was beyond laughable, but I swallowed my sarcasm. I was under strict orders to be politically correct and to treat these people with the utmost care.

“We’ve got food and supplies at our office in Bakane District, so there is no need to fret. Please, we are behind schedule and must get moving. Please take your seats in the van. Thank you.” In my non-PC language, I would have said, “You’re late, get on the damn bus.” I was proud of my self-control at 5:30 in the morning.

I organized the IPSOs’ equipment and got the French-speaking Unmos to take them to breakfast; then I changed their polling station assignments so that they and the CivPol on site would speak the same language.

Bruno was enraged. “We keep the IPSOs in the polling station where I’ve assigned them. Rearrange the CivPol if you need to,” he boomed as he burst into my office.

Interfering with the IPSOs was not politic. Some were former heads of state; others were wealthy socialites; and all of them were well-connected politically. I had no choice but to comply.

It was Klara who told him off. “My sir,” she said in her clipped German accent. “CJ made certain that everyone could be understood. Her assignments guaranteed the IPSOs security and comfort.”

“And by rearranging the CivPol assignments, the same was accomplished without disturbing the IPSOs’ assignments.” Bruno bellowed his reply. Smiling at his logic, he sat down, expecting Klara to retreat.

“These IPSOs are princes. You kiss their asses!” she countered, not ready to retreat at all. She accused them of earning huge amounts of money, even though they had arrived after the real work was done. “Besides,” she reminded him, “the CivPol are not under CJ’s command.”

“True, CJ’s plan serves all parties,” he acquiesced. “Nonetheless, my direction stands. IPSOs will remain at the polling sites where I assigned them.”

“You should not have intervened,” Klara said, making full use of her 5’8” frame. “CJ must reschedule the entire CivPol for seven people. Ridiculous.”

“It’s done, and the IPSOs will be teamed with CivPol who speak a common language.” Bruno turned to me. Sheepishly, he asked, “It’s a good result, don’t you agree?”

“A good result,” I answered, repeating his words more than agreeing with them. It was like pleading ‘no contest.’ Klara, her back to Bruno, muttered under her breath, “Drachenfutter.” I was pretty sure that her response was more colorful than mine.

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