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)