Government Urged to Allow Voting for Person, Not Party

Voters should cast ballots in lo­cal elections for specific individuals, rather than for political parties, participants at a commune poll workshop said Wednesday.

Pro-democracy advocates are continuing to pressure the government to hold commune elections using a representative electoral system, which would enable citizens to vote for individuals.

Currently, the government is planning to use a proportional sys­tem, in which voters cast ballots for parties, which are then award­ed seats based on the percent­age of the vote received. The system was used in the 1993 and 1998 national elections.

A draft law has yet to be adopted for the commune polls, which the government has delayed for several years.

“Voters have the right to choose the per­­son they prefer [to be commune chief] and not a person appointed by a party,” Thun Saray, president of local human rights group Adhoc and an official with the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cam­bodia, said Wednesday.

In similar workshops held in 12 provinces, 80 percent of participants expressed a desire to have the opportunity to vote for a person, Thun Saray said.

Chea Vannath, president of the Center for Social Development, said the majority of those surveyed in 10 provinces by her or­ganization also wanted to be represented locally by someone they choose.

The two-day workshop in Phnom Penh brought together NGOs and civic groups concerned with procedural details for the unscheduled commune polls. It was organized by the US-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

Thun Saray said voters should be given a chance to cast ballots against community figures they believe will represent them inadequately.

“Some people on the lists, the peo­ple don’t like them,” he said.

(Reporting by Kay Kimsong, Kevin Doyle and Chris Decherd)




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