Comfrel Predicts CPP To Come Out on Top in Upcoming Poll

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections issued a statement Thurs­day predicting the results of the upcoming district, municipal, and provincial council elections, giving the ruling CPP a large, if unsurprising, lead in the May poll.

Comfrel also reiterated its criticism of the elections, which they regard as undemocratic because only commune councilors are given a vote.

“This system does not represent the choice of the voter,” Koul Panha, executive director of Comfrel, said by telephone Thursday. “The commune councilors just select their own party. They have to, if they want to stay in their parties,” he said.

The report was based on calculations of the likely outcome of the May 17 elections, assuming that commune councilors would vote for members of their own parties.

According to Comfrel estimates, the CPP would walk away with 77 percent of provincial council seats, with the SRP taking 20 percent, the Norodom Ranariddh Party securing 2 percent and Funcinpec just 1 percent. In the municipal contests, CPP candidates should win 62 percent of seats and SRP candidates the remaining 38 percent. The estimate for district elections showed that the CPP would win 75 percent, SRP 22 percent, NRP 2 percent and Funcin­pec 1 percent.

Koul Panha said that an ideal alternative to the current system would be to allow Cambodians to vote for their representatives directly, as they do in commune elections.

“They can put two or three ballot papers together: one for commune council, another for provincial and district council. This would save money—no need to have separate elections.”

The National Election Committee will spend $1.5 million on the May elections.

SRP lawmaker and spokesman Yim Sovann said by telephone Thursday that his party has asked the NEC to replace 200 former SRP councilors who had defected to other parties, but those requested changes have yet to be accepted.

Yim Sovann said that SRP, “really supports the Comfrel report.”

However, government spokes­man and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said Thursday that he rejected the report, because he be­ieves Comfrel does not understand Cambodian election law.

“Commune councilors were elected by the people, and commune councilors, instead of the people, will vote for the city, province, and district [officials],” he said.

(Additional reporting by Bethany Lindsay)

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