The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel) and the opposition CNRP on Sunday called on the National Election Committee (NEC) to suspend its annual update of the voter list until the new bipartisan election committee is created.
Under the political agreement between Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy that was brokered on July 22, the present NEC, which is dominated by the ruling party, is to be replaced by a new body composed equally of both parties.
Comfrel executive director Koul Panha said the process of updating the voter list, set to begin this month, usually cost more than $1 million and should be halted and left for the new and reformed NEC to carry out.
“The two major political parties agreed to make a new voter list, so there must be more discussions on how to manage this problem. It will be meaningless and a waste of money if the old NEC continues with this,” he said.
CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith said that the cross-party working group on electoral reform is set to resume its meetings today and also called to delay the voter list update.
“We understand that the present NEC is just a caretaker institution, so they don’t have anything to do right now,” he said.
Mr. Ponhearith said the new NEC could be created and placed in the Constitution sometime this month or in October.
NEC President Im Sousdey said his organization was required by law to carry out the voter list update until it is officially dissolved. According to NEC figures from last month, the list presently has 9,732,531 names.
“I would like you to please look at the existing laws that are in effect,” Mr. Sousdey said. “The law instructs us to do our work, so who will take responsibility if we don’t do our work?”
“If there is a law made by the National Assembly to suspend the work, we will suspend,” he said. “If the law says to move forward, we will move forward.”