NEC Reacts to NUF Request NUFRERERequests

The National Election Com­mittee responded on Wednesday  to a list of re­quests from the opposition National United Front by promising to send strong messages em­phasizing neutrality of polling station officials and the secrecy of the ballot.

But at least one party in the NUF, the Sam Rainsy Party, is not satisfied with the response.

In response to the group’s concerns about the neutrality of polling commissions, many of which are expected to be composed of village and commune of­ficials on temporary leave from their jobs, the NEC promised to issue a notice to all commission members reminding them that the electoral law requires them to be neutral.

The NUF had requested that steps be taken to keep village and commune officials, who are almost all CPP appointees, off the polling commissions.

And a Sam Rainsy Party aide said Wednes­day that a reminder of neutrality is not enough.

“No one who lives in Cambodia can look at their village chief or commune chief acting as a pol­ling station officer and think their vote will necessarily be free and secret,” said Rich Garella, Sam Rainsy Party communications officer.

The NEC also promised to re­cord King Norodom Siha­nouk’s recent message promising secrecy of the ballot and broadcast it on election day.

But the Sam Rainsy Party wants the message broadcast sooner and often, to counteract what it says is a campaign to convince people the CPP can know how they voted, Garella said.

He also complained that the NEC responded to concerns that not enough polling station ballots will be mixed together to ensure secrecy by reiterating the very rules that the NUF protested.

“Their response is entirely un­satisfactory,” he said. “Many parts appear calculated to avoid the crux of the issues we raised.”

However, the NEC has recently made some changes to plan­ned procedure after complaints, including striking a rule that would have allowed ballot boxes to be kept overnight at the home of the polling station chief.


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