Election Monitors Support Non-Party System

Members of three main election monitoring organizations continue to support the use of non-party specific candidates in next year’s scheduled commune elections, but did not reach conclusions on other parts of the election law drafts during a meeting Wednesday.

The meeting was the first time the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, Coalition for Free and Fair Elections and Neutral and Independent Com­mittee for Free Fair Elections in Cambodia—Comfrel, Coffel and Nicfec, respectively—met to jointly discuss the elections.

Two laws—one for commune administration and another for commune elections—are currently being drafted by the government.

Meeting participants generally criticized the seat allocation system used in the 1993 and 1998 elections, faulting it for allowing political parties to have too many seats with too few votes.

Participants said if this process was applied to the commune elections, the commune council—the commune’s anticipated governing body—could be dominated by a single political party.

“We want more independent candidates in the commune council because they may work more fairly for the villager in his or her commune,” Comfrel director Thun Saray said.

Trying to minimize political party presence during the elections, which are scheduled to be held late next year in more than 1,600 communes, has been the goal of a government working group helping to draft the elections laws, according to Ministry of Interior officials.

A draft of the commune administration law has been written to allow independent candidates on the commune council.

“This law would be greatly improved by consultation between the ministries and the [NGOs] on the local level,” NGO Forum Representative Russell Peterson said.

Council of Ministers head Sok An has said the NGOs will have a chance to speak on the draft after it has passed through the Council of Ministers, Peterson said.

He added that the Forum will head a subcommittee to examine the commune administration law draft.

Meanwhile Comfrel, Coffel and Nicfec will look further at the commune electoral law draft.

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