NEC Says 80 Percent of Country Registered for July Polls

More than 80 percent of the country’s estimated 5.6 million voters are now registered for the forthcoming polls, the National Election Committee announced Wednesday.

“We, the NEC, have achieved about 80.45 percent of the registration process right now,” said NEC member Prum Nhean at a press briefing to release figures for the third week of registration.

Updated totals put the number of registered voters at more than 3.9 million, with third-week figures still to be received from 10 of the country’s 20 provinces, including the biggest, Kompong Cham.

“With more figures from the remaining provinces, we hope there can be up to 90 percent registered,” Prum Nhean said.

NEC adviser Seuk Bun Hok heralded the success of the first three weeks of the month-long registration period in the face of  many logistical challenges.

“We are very proud that we achieved over 80 percent of the process already, in spite of many kinds of technical difficulties for the NEC,” he said.

NEC figures put the number of people registered in the first week at more than 1.7 million, with more than 1.5 million in the second. Third-week figures put the number registered at 688,132, not including the 10 provinces yet to declare.

More than 5.6 million people are estimated to be eligible to vote in July’s scheduled election. That number will rise slightly with the inclusion of Khmer Rouge defectors in the former rebel stronghold of Anlong Veng, said Prum Nhean.

He added that 10 registration stations have opened in the An­long Veng area since the beginning of the week.

An NEC statement released Wednesday acknowledged some problems in the registration pro­cess, such as multiple registrations, the registration of people who do not qualify as Cambodian citizens, and the collection of polling cards from people after they have registered.

CPP members and election watchdog groups have reported a widespread CPP push to collect registration cards, record their numbers and then return them to voters—in some cases, with a card urging them to vote for the party.

Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party have both complained to the NEC about the practice, which they say is an attempt to intimidate voters.

In the statement, NEC chairman Chheng Phon warned that “no one, no party and no organization has the right to withdraw the voter card from people al­ready registered except if they have violated the law, in which case their cards will be removed by the NEC and electoral workers.”

Anyone caught attempting to collect the cards would be punished according to the law, Chheng Phon said. Similarly, he said, any electoral official who knowingly registers a non-Cam­bodian national or anyone who registers more than once would be subject to a fine or other punishment under the electoral law.

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