Monitor Blasts NEC Selection

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.

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