Critics charged on Tuesday that the National Election Committee could not properly register potential voters and needs more independence.
Members from all three political parties, as well as the UN, NGOs and diplomats, attended a workshop at the Micasa Hotel, aimed at reforming the election body before the July 2003 national elections.
At the workshop, officials from Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party were especially critical of the NEC’s performance during February’s commune elections, demanding that much more needed to be done to make the national elections free and fair.
Funcinpec official Thean Bunsrun criticized the NEC because an estimated 2 million voters did not cast their ballots during the commune elections.
The NEC also needs to be composed of only three members—one from each major party represented in the National Assembly —as well as one representative from civil society, said Ou Bunlong, the legal adviser and chief negotiator for the Sam Rainsy Party.
He said an independent oversight committee should also be formed to review election-related complaints from different parties.
“A separate and independent body must be formed to address complaints lodged by any party involved in the election,” Ou Bunlong said. He added that each member of the proposed committee should serve one year rather than the current five-year term.
The NEC now has 11 members, including members from all three major parties and an official from the Ministry of Interior. But it also has representatives from now defunct political parties.
Kassie Neou, vice president of the NEC and a member of the government’s Cambodian Human Rights Committee, agreed that the NEC needed reform, saying at the workshop that the NEC membership needed new appointments.
Ork Kimhan, the CPP representative at the workshop, said that although the current election laws are not 100 percent perfect, it is the law that all parties accepted, and that all parties accepted the election results.
He conceded, however, that the NEC needs “minor reform.”