Election Body Continues to Reject Reform Calls

In his closing comments at a two-day training session for provincial election officials, the head of the government’s election body rejected calls from local independent election monitors to revise voter lists and allow for multiparty representation in commune-level election committees.

Speaking to about 100 officials from the country’s 23 provincial election committees (PECs), National Election Committee (NEC) President Im Suosdey, said that criticism of the government’s handling of election lists was unfounded, and reiterated that opposition parties would not be invited to appoint members of commune election committees (CEC).

“They have nothing to accuse us of and just pull out the voter list to criticize us,” Mr. Suosdey said, referring to election monitors who said that if July’s elections are to be fair, the government must revise voter lists by posting them at the village level.

An audit of the voter list conducted by the National Democratic Institute and released in March found that 1 in 10 people registered for the elections do not exist and 9 percent of past voters were taken off voter rolls unfairly.

Mr. Suosdey also announced that the NEC has rejected recommendations that there be multiparty representation at the lower level of the body. The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has demanded that it be allotted slots in the country’s 1,633 CECs, whose members are currently appointed by the directors of the relevant PEC, who are in turn appointed by the NEC, which has come under scrutiny by the U.N.’s special rapporteur to Cambodia for being stacked with members of the ruling party.

Both demands were part of a petition sent to the NEC last week by independent election monitors and civil society organizations, according to Hang Puthea, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

“We are very sad and the NEC will get more criticism from the public and political parties every time they reject the NGOs’ requests,” Mr. Puthea said.

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