NEC Defends Itself at Fair Election Forum

A National Election Committee official defended the NEC against complaints about media access on Friday, saying that although the election committee has “limited rights,” it is always fair.

Speaking at the 9th Consti­tu­tional Workshop on Election and Equal Right to Information on Friday, NEC media officer Prum Nhean Vichet said the committee was bound by the election law to air campaign materials from the political parties.

Citing Article 75 of the election law, Prum Nhean Vichet said, “The NEC is required to air campaign articles at the request of the political parties…so you see what level of rights the law gives to the NEC.”

He also said it is impossible to satisfy all political parties, and that although there is now a new election law some critics “say the new law is worse than the old one.”

Speakers and participants, including Funcinpec Parliamen­tarian Ok Socheat, accused the NEC of being biased.

“In Cambodia, no one is neutral—this includes even the King,” Ok Socheat said. “A country has democracy when its elections can change the government,” he added.

The discussions during Fri­day’s conference were slightly overshadowed when some participants reported that some journalists were paid to attend the conference.

Around 200 members of local and international NGOs as well as government officials attended he conference, which aimed to raise awareness about fair and balanced reporting as well as free media access during the elections.

However, some attendees stated that the organizers of the event paid them money to attend.

Ouk Nay Kim, chief of the Star Kampuchea Organization, which organized the meeting, said he was not aware of anyone distributing money to the conference participants.

 

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