Assembly Allows Opposition to Join NEC

The National Assembly gave its approval for opposition party member Kuoy Bun Roeun to join the National Election Committee, reversing an assembly vote in May that rejected his candidacy.

Eighty-nine lawmakers voted to let Kuoy Bun Roeun join the body that is overseeing the preparation for February’s commune elections, while 15 voted no.

The vote comes a day after Prime Minister Hun Sen told CPP members that the Sam Rain­sy Party should have a representative on the NEC to ensure there is “fair play” in overseeing the local elections. Sam Rainsy said the presence of a Sam Rainsy Party member on the NEC will reduce voting fraud.

In May, the assembly rejected Kuoy Bun Roeun, with 65 members of parliament voting against him and 42 voting to support his candidacy.

Before that vote, Kuoy Bun Roeun’s candidacy had been endorsed by Hun Sen in a letter to National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh. But Hun Sen suggested after that vote that Sam Rainsy sabotaged his candidate’s chances by criticizing the NEC before the vote.

Prince Ranariddh said Friday that the opposition party should have had a representative on the NEC months ago, but Sam Rain­sy was to blame for the delay.

Opposition party leaders threatened after the May vote to refuse to put up another candidate for the NEC and to forfeit their seat. Cambodian law states that any party with a seat on the National Assembly is entitled to representation on the NEC.

Meanwhile, the EU announced it will provide financial assistance to the elections and is considering sending a team of observers to Cambodia, according to an EU statement.

The EU gave $11.5 million in aid to Cambodia for its 1998 na­tional election.

Also on Friday, Australia donated $100,000 to the UN De­vel­opment Program Friday to support voter education activities during the registration process. Another $206,000 will be given to the UNDP to be used for posters, videos and theater productions during polling.

The fund package is the second from an international donor. Ger­many and the UNDP have given $452,000 for the purchase of a computer system that can maintain a permanent voter database that can be used for the 2003 national election and the 2004 senate elections.

Speaking at a ceremony at the UNDP celebrating the Australian donation, NEC secretary-general Im Suosdey acknowledged there have been problems with the massive task of registering voters, especially in remote rural areas where it takes longer to deliver materials and information.



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