Committees Ask for Registration Extensions

Seventy percent of eligible voters had registered for next Feb­ruary’s commune elections through Monday, according to the National Election Committee. But almost all provincial election committees have requested an extension of the Thursday registration deadline, said Prum Nhean Vi­cheth, NEC media committee chairman.

The NEC will probably decide today on whether to extend registration, but will wait until reports have been received from every committee before deciding, Prum Nhean Vicheth said.

Lay Hun Ky, Banteay Mean­chey provincial election committee chief, said she has been told the NEC will allow a one- or two-day extension.

Meanwhile, many garment and shoe factory workers are still being denied registration, said Chea Vichea, president of the Free Trade Union Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Factory workers are finding registration centers closed when they go to home communes, while election workers in other communes are telling factory workers they do not have evidence to prove voter eligibility, Chea Vichea said. Factory workers are also having difficulty convincing local authorities where they work to certify residency, he said.

About half of the country’s 200,000 garment and shoe factory workers have still not registered, Chea Vichea said.

Under a July agreement be­tween government, factory and union officials, workers are allow­ed to take anywhere from a half-day to four days off to travel to their home communes to register. But factory workers have encountered problems once they arrive in their home commune, critics say.

Prum Nhean Vicheth said those problems are exaggerated.

“The local authorities know their people well,” he said.

The Sam Rainsy Party blamed their poor showing in the 1998 national elections in part on the low turnout of factory workers.

Lay Hun Ky said she has re­ceived leaflets in Poipet commune with a photo of opposition leader Sam Rainsy and a re­minder that registration ends Thurs­day.

In a statement Monday, NEC Chairman Chheng Phon said distributing political party “propaganda” must stop, warning that offen­ding parties could face legal action.



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