Group Invited to Monitor the Elections in Style

One lucky group of election monitors will be wined and dined, compliments of the ruling CPP, during their mission to observe the July 28 national election, according to an email sent by the Seoul-based International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).

The email, sent June 28, by Chung Euiyong, secretary-general of the ICAPP, a consortium of 18 political parties from countries that include Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Thailand, Bangladesh and Indonesia, states that a group of monitors was invited in May to observe the forthcoming election in Cambodia by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

“Expenses for hotel accommodation, local transportation and meals will be covered by the CPP,” Mr. Chung said in the email, which re­ferred to a tentative agenda for a five-day “mission to monitor the general elections in Cambodia.”

Among items on the agenda is a July 26, two-hour “welcoming dinner to be hosted by the Chairman of the [National Election Committee],” Im Suosdey, as well as another two-hour NEC-hosted dinner scheduled for two days later on July 28, the night of the election.

“The main purpose of the ICAPP’s participation in the monitoring activities during the general elections is to promote understanding on the election process of Cambodia and to make contributions to the free and fair elections in Cambodia,” Mr. Chung said in his email.

Mr. Chung did not respond to requests for comment on the visit, or how many people will participate in the mission.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he had not heard of the group’s visit, while CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap also said he had not heard of the visit, but noted that the CPP often invites observers.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said he was not aware of the group’s intentions, but noted that “any political party has the right to inviting observers, but they have to inform the NEC.”

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, also said nothing stops political parties from inviting groups to observe the elections. But he said that, in his experience, it was rare for such groups to come, particularly at the expense of the ruling party.

“That’s why we need independent observers…” he said.

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