Five Parties Registered for Election; Opposition Holding Out

Five political parties have now registered to vote in the July 28 national elections, the National Election Committee (NEC) said on Friday, but the country’s main opposition group, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has yet to submit candidates for the vote.

At a meeting held at the NEC headquarters inside the Ministry of Interior compound, NEC officials announced that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party had been “officially accepted” as a contender, while the little-known Sanhcheat Khmer Party needed to make some changes to its application documents.

“First, the NEC has decided to officially accept the CPP and its candidates, and second, it re­quires that the Sanhcheat Khmer Party make changes to missing points [in the application],” NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said.

The NEC is still processing the registration of Funcinpec, the Democratic Republic Party and the Federation for Democracy Party, he said.

Reached by telephone, CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha said that the party’s plans to register for the election still hinges on whether the NEC will make a series of reform demands, including changes to the committee’s membership structure and how appointments are made, as well as how it registers voters.

“We have a plan to [register for the election], but we will continue to protest for changes [because of] the irregularities of the voter lists, which has been suggested by the U.N.,” Mr. Sokha said, adding that the CNRP plans to stage a second rally to demand NEC reform when U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Surya Subedi arrives in Cambodia on May 19.

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia [Comfrel] has forecast that some 1 million voters could be negatively affected on voting day because of irregularities in registering names on the election list.

Speaking by telephone after the meeting, Mr. Nytha insisted that voters have plenty of time to verify that their names are on the election lists—which have already been disseminated to commune offices around the country since January. People need to be more proactive about filing complaints about such things, Mr. Nytha said.

“Why don’t you ever file a complaint? NGOs keep saying that names are missing from voter lists,” Mr. Nytha said. “But when the NEC asks them for a few names so that we can look them up in our list, they never give anything to us. Nobody has ever filed a complaint to us when they don’t see their name in the list.”

Political parties have until May 13 to register for the election, after which the NEC will take seven days to process applications. If changes need to be made, the parties have five days to make them.

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