Electoral Watchdog Calls for Volunteers Ahead of June Vote

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel) has put out a call for 5,000 volunteers to sign up as observers for the June 3 commune elections.

A statement issued by Comfrel Executive Director Koul Panha called for “participations from di­­verse non-government organizations/associations/unions and university students to take part in the elec­tion processes, especially during the election and counting days.”

Kim Chhorn, senior program co­ordinator for Comfrel, said the organization was splitting ob­servers into two groups: volunteers from Com­frel’s own network, which he said would hopefully reach 2,000, and the NGO Short-Term Observers (NTSO) that were called for in yesterday’s state­ment. He said the group is aiming for 5,000 NTSO participants.

Election monitoring groups have a monumental task ahead of them with just three months to go until sev­eral million people flock to 18,107 polling stations across the country to cast their votes.

Comfrel is to oversee the training of the NTSOs, who have until May 14 to sign up.

“We have many ways of training these observers,” Mr. Chhorn said. “We have e-planning, which is training using YouTube videos and CDs, and we will organize special classes for the training of trainers,” he said.

Hang Puthea, director of the Neu­t­ral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia, said budget constraints meant his organization would not be dis­patching as many observers as hoped.

“We planned to have 7,000 ob­ser­­vers, but we have the budget for on­ly 3,000,” he said.

The National Election Committee (NEC) on Monday announced that it has spent $20,000 printing leaflets to be distributed among the 9.2 million registered voters.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Ny­tha said the leaflets would explain how voters can find their names on the voter lists, along with other election-related information.

“Commune Election Commit­tee officers will hand out this in­for­mation to village chiefs, who will distribute them directly to voters at meetings,” Mr. Nytha said.




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