Expats Volunteer to Watch Polls

Sixty-seven members of Cam­bodia’s expatriate community have volunteered to work for free as election observers over the coming weekend. 

The Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Nicfec) was satisfied with the response to its appeal for unpaid international observers, spokesman Allen Keesee said Sunday. The NGO could have handled applications from as many as a few hundred volunteers, Keesee added.

Of the 71 who initially volunteered, four have since dropped out, he said. Most volunteers work for NGOs in Cambodia. The appeal for observers was made through an advertisement in The Cam­bodia Daily last week. The final day for applications was Saturday. As advertised, volunteers are obliged to cover all expenses themselves, but can choose where they are stationed.

No one who applied was turned away, Keesee said. This was purely a reflection of the high caliber of applicants, he claimed. “Because they are covering their own costs, we assume they are committed to the cause,” a project coordinator, Tim Sea­man, said when questioned about how applicants had been vetted.

Nicfec will post ob­servers in Phnom Penh and 17 provinces.

Unlike UN and EU observers, Nicfec observers will cover more than one polling station during polling day, volunteer Marcel Stoessel said. “I wanted to contribute so that people are less afraid the day they vote,” he said. “I think it is better if we are there than if we are not there.”

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