Monitors Air Concerns for NEC Overhaul

Several election monitors continued to express concern Tues­day over plans for an overhauled National Election Committee that many fear will continue to remain too close to the government.

The key point raised by the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections and the Committee for Free and Fair Elections was, who would choose the NEC members, said Heng Puthea, Nicfec executive director.

According to the election draft law, the Ministry of Interior would choose the members and the National Assembly would approve the nominees.

“Our main hot point is about creating an independent committee to choose the NEC members,” Heng Puthea said.

“But at this stage, the National Assembly [Legislative Commit­tee] members said it couldn’t happen be­cause the draft law is going ahead.”

The point was made during talks with the Assembly’s Legis­lative Com­mittee about 13 recommendations and criticisms of the Min­istry of Interior’s amendments to the election law on Monday, officials said.

Besides selecting a committee to oversee NEC membership, Nicfec and Comfrel recommended that private citizens without political affiliation be allowed to run as candidates and no political party be allowed to give gifts to voters during the election campaign period, Heng Puthea said.

Monh Saphan, Legislative Committee chairman, said Tues­day his committee will study the recommendations—as well as the rest of the election draft law—and discuss them with the Minis­try of Interior today.

“We will listen to the Interior Ministry officials, and we will discuss the NGOs’ recommendations, but everything will be ap­proved by the National Assem­bly,” Monh Saphan said.

Sak Setha, the Ministry’s admin­istrative director general, who worked on the draft law, said he had not yet received a letter from the National Assembly requesting a meting.

The national elections are tentatively scheduled for late July 2003.

 

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