NEC Records Less Campaign Violence, More Youth Involvement

The National Election Committee (NEC) on Friday said that this year’s 30-day election campaign period ran smoothly, with a noticeable drop in violence from 2008 and no political killings.

The NEC also noted the in­crease in youth involvement in campaigning as a positive sign, but found that most were just campaigning for fun, NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said during a press conference at the committee’s headquarters.

“We’ve seen this year there are a lot of youth participating in the election campaign, and it’s good that the youth are paying attention to politics,” Mr. Nytha said.

But he added that some of the young campaigners are not of voting age and others are not registered to vote.

“Their participation is just for entertainment,” he claimed, explaining that some would wear one party’s hat in the morning, then campaign for another party in the afternoon.

The NEC has no exact figure for the number of injuries that resulted from confrontations between campaigners over the past 30 days, Mr. Nytha said.

In 2008, 11 election-related murders were recorded during the campaign period, but this year there were none, he said, adding that the NEC also recorded eight cases of attempted murder and 13 cases of intimidation ahead of the 2008 election, but this year one attempted murder and 15 cases of intimidation were reported.

“What happened the most was destruction of political party logos,” Mr. Nytha said, adding that 78 cases of vandalized party signs were reported, a major increase over the 13 signs that were destroyed in 2008.

More than 12 million ballots have been printed for Sunday’s vote and have been distributed to the 19,009 polling stations across the country that will be open to the 9.6 million registered voters, according to Mr. Nytha. Each polling station also has about 74 extra ballots available to voters who accidentally choose the wrong party on their initial ballot, he added.

Over the course of the campaign period, a total of 322 complaints were filed to commune, provincial and the national election committees for violence, injury, intimidation, defamation, interruption and destroying party signs and logos, Mr. Nytha said, the majority of which came from the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

NEC member Havan Sivilay called for orderly participation in Sunday’s vote.

“The NEC also appeals to all Cambodians who have their names on the voter list for 2013 to go to vote on Sunday, and also asks that voters avoid drinking alcohol a day prior to polling day and on polling day,” he said.

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