Election Officials Warn Against Partisanship

Government and election officials Wednesday warned commune and village chiefs to be nonpartisan both during and after the July 27 national elections.

“Civil servants need to know their boundaries,” said Sak Setha, director general of the Interior Min­istry’s ad­ministration department, during the closing ceremony of an election-training program run by the UN Development Program and the Neutral and Impartial Com­mittee for Free and Fair Elections in Cam­bodia.

“[It is] not only in the election period that public officials are not supposed to use working hours or public tools to support a political party, but also all year,” Sak Setha said.

Im Suosdey, Chair of the National Election Committee, acknowledged that village and commune chiefs “have rights as a citizen.”

“But they need to know their role,” he said. “We have to mark clearly the division between their [official] duties and civil acts.”

The NEC will add a specific outdoor monitor who will be charged with making sure local officials don’t use their presence to pressure voters, he said.

So far, about 30 election-related complaints have been filed with the NEC, Im Suosdey said. Most have been resolved, though the NEC is still investigating the death of a CPP affiliated deputy village chief in Kompong Cham province, a conflict involving a military vehicle in Kam­pot, and a smashed car window in Battambang province, he added.

The election environment is “more or less quiet” so far, when compared to the 2003 National Assembly race, Sak Setha said.

“I hope this stability will continue throughout the rest [of the campaign season],” he added.

Hang Puthea, executive director of Nicfec, said about 20,000 Cam­bodians were taught about the election process at 405 election training sessions held throughout all 24 provinces in June.


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