The National Election Committee on Thursday permitted the Boeng Keng Kang III commune council to register 31 homeless young adults to vote.
More than 100 people filled the hearing room as representatives of the Mith Samlanh/Friends NGO appealed to the NEC on behalf of 72 of their charges, all of whom were present and listening carefully to the proceedings, for the right to vote.
NEC Chairman Im Suosdey approved 31 of the applicants and denied the rest, saying they were not permanent residents of the NGO’s shelter in Boeng Keng Kang III. He said those young adults should have returned to registration stations in their home communes—where most live in poor conditions. But registration extensions expired in all communes last week. All of the applicants were older than 18, the minimum age to vote.
“Those street children, because of their living conditions, it is difficult for them to register in their communes. That is why I want them to register in a central location,” said Ly Sopath, director of Mith Samlanh/Friends.
Mith Samlanh/Friends representative Lay Sovann said after the hearing he would continue the appeal on behalf of the 41 applicants denied registration.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy accompanied the 72 when they first tried to register on Feb 14, but Ly Sopath denied affiliation between Mith Samlanh/Friends and the opposition party.
“Our center is independent. We don’t acknowledge any political parties,” she said.
During the official registration period, the NGO successfully registered 67 homeless young adults.