44 Parties Line Up to Compete in July Polls

A total of 44 political parties are expected to be approved by the Ministry of Interior this week to compete in elections scheduled for July 26, a ministry official said.

The Interior registration is one of two registrations required to compete in the elections. The second registration is with the National Election Committee. Parties must submit a Ministry of Interior certificate showing they are a legal political party when they register with the NEC.

Parties already approved by Interior include 13 of the 20 parties that contested the 1993 UN-sponsored elections, as well as 15 new parties.

An additional 16 new parties have submitted all the documentation required and their approval is expected shortly, said Ouk Somarim, the ministry’s director of political affairs.

Originally, 54 parties applied for legal recognition with the government, but 10 of them were rejected, Ouk Somarim said. Among them was the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party, which both Information Minister Ieng Mouly and National Assembly Second Vice President Son Soubert claimed for their own. Both sides eventually formed new parties.

Similarly, the application for the Khmer Neutral Party was rejected because both Bou Hel and Ti Chhin were squabbling over the leadership. Bou Hel has since formed the Kampuchea Neutral Party and Ti Chhin the Khmer Children Party. Both new parties are expected to be approved, Ouk Somarim said.

Five new parties were rejected by Interior because they could not prove that they had the required 4,000 members, he said.

The registration period with the NEC began March 28 and continues to May 7. So far, no party has turned in all the paperwork needed to register with the NEC, according the committee’s general secretary, Im Suors­dey.

“Twenty-three parties have come and taken the application forms for registration but none have turned them in yet,” he said Thursday.

Besides the Interior Ministry certificate, parties must submit a list of candidates for at least one-third of the 122 National Assembly seats up for grabs, financial statements and a deposit of 10 million riel, which is to be refunded if the party obtains at least 3 percent of the vote or wins at least one seat.

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