Patronage and bad habits, not transparency and fairness, have guided the recent selection of provincial election committees, according to Hang Puthea, president of the Neutral Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections.
According to Nicfec monitors stationed in 24 towns and provinces throughout the country, the problems stemmed from the National Election Committee’s decision to draw new committee members from a pool of previous staff who were aligned with Funcinpec and the CPP, cutting out the opposition Sam Rainsy Party or anyone else not affiliated with the coalition government, he said.
He said the NEC conducted recruitment in secret without alerting election-monitoring NGOs.
“In theory the recruitment is transparent, but in reality it is not,” he said.
NEC spokesman Leng Sochea said the election committee positions were advertised in the local media along with a general invitation to the public to apply for the posts; he added, however, that he would not disclose to an NGO how committee members were chosen.
“When NGOs recruit their members they never inform us, so the NEC won’t disclose to them; this is our secret,” he said.
Even as election committee members were chosen this week, another human rights group urged the Ministry of Interior to issue a long-delayed directive to appoint new village chiefs throughout the country.
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights has said that any delay only hands an unfair advantage to the ruling CPP in the upcoming general elections.
Village chiefs were slotted for replacement after the commune council elections of last year, but the Ministry of Interior has delayed issuing instructions required under Article 30 of the 2001 Law on Commune Administration that would tell the commune councils how to select new chiefs.
“Participants [in CCHR training programs] have frequently complained about the fact that village chiefs represent the interests of only one party and [have also complained about] the delay in appointing new village chiefs,” a statement from the CCHR said.