The Sam Rainsy Party and Khmer Democratic Party, citing instances of candidate intimidation and logistical problems, have asked that candidate registration for the February commune elections be reopened.
The Sam Rainsy Party said its candidates have not been able to register in 120 communes due to “political violence and intimidation.”
In a news statement, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians said the election was in danger of being like those held in communist Central Europe.
Khmer Democratic Party President Op Reit said commune election officials prevented party representatives in 87 communes from registering by questioning their qualifications. Party representatives also were held back by flooding, he said.
Op Reit said it was July before he received a ruling from the National Election Committee that small parties could register, so his representatives were not fully prepared. With another week, Khmer Democratic Party candidates could register in 100 more communes, he said.
Funcinpec Election Committee Chairman May Sam Oeun said his party has filed complaints about intimidation or irregularities of candidates in “at least” 16 communes in Oddar Meanchey and Battambang provinces.
But Funcinpec has not decided whether to request that registration be reopened, he said, adding that the party is working through the NEC complaint process.
Koul Panha of the election monitoring organization Coalition for a Free and Fair Election supported the requests. He cited five communes in Pursat province in which only the CPP registered candidates. In an election using the proportional representation system, one-party elections are “meaningless,” he said.
An international election expert who had spoken to party representatives said there was clear evidence of wrongdoing. But he said the parties had not compiled detailed evidence about every case where intimidation was claimed.
Samraing Kamsan, an adviser to NEC chairman Chheng Phon, said he had been assigned to examine whether reopening the registration period was possible. “We have to look at the calendar,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Lor Chandara.)