4 Days Of Meetings On Commune Elections Scheduled

About 2,000 people are expected to attend four days of public meetings this week aimed at changing the rules for the up­coming commune elections.

The meetings, organized by the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, will be held in front of Wat Botum each morning from 7 am to 9 am today through Fri­day.

Thun Saray, director of the committee, said the three main topics on the agenda are the electoral system for the commune elections, participation of women in government, and reform of the National Election Commission.

“We need to show the decision-makers that we are not alone,” Thun Saray said. “A lot of people care about the commune elections.”

The primary topic for discussion will be proposals to change the electoral system from proportional representation found in the current commune administration draft law to voting for individual candidates.

The committee believes the change would encourage independent candidates to run.

Members also say the change would make candidates more accountable and help promote development better tailored to local needs.

The committee believes more women need to be encouraged to run, because “women have different needs than men, and no one understands the needs of women better than women themselves,” Thun Sray said.

The committee is also calling for the NEC itself to be reformed, noting that its “independence, transparency, credibility and neutrality” are essential if it is to help maintain the political and social stability of the elections, Thun Sray said.

The NEC came under heavy fire following the 1998 national elections for being influenced by the CPP and critics, particularly in the Sam Rainsy Party, have repeatedly called for it overhaul to provide more representation from opposition voices.

Thun Saray said that after the meetings, the committee will send a statement to the National Assembly detailing what was discussed.


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