The NEC is to send a delegation to Anlong Veng today in hopes of setting up voter registration centers in the recently captured Khmer Rouge stronghold, officials said.
If all goes well, the officials said, more than 15,000 people could be registered in the Anlong Veng area to vote in the scheduled July 26 election—a prospect almost unthinkable as recently as two months ago.
NEC General Secretary Im Suorsdei is leading the delegation, which left Phnom Penh on Thursday for Siem Reap.
Im Suorsdei said he will travel to Anlong Veng today, in a visit that will coincide with the official integration of Khmer Rouge defectors from Anlong Veng into the government army.
“We plan to create more registration stations there,” Im Suorsdei said.
“We don’t know how many we will need,” he said. “I am myself bringing registration materials and I will take some people from the Siem Reap provincial election commission to Anlong Veng.”
He said it makes sense to ask Siem Reap elections officials to cover the newly integrated areas, explaining that, “In Anlong Veng, we don’t have time to recruit staff.”
NEC information officer Leng Sochea said Thursday that the RCAF has given the electoral body an estimate of the population in and around Anlong Veng and how many might be eligible to vote.
Of the more than 20,000 civilians in the area, roughly 9,000 are believed to be over 18. In addition, there are more than 3,000 ex-Khmer Rouge soldiers and 5,000 government troops in the area, according to RCAF figures.
Leng Sochea said the NEC is looking at two locations, near the town’s hospital and school, both of which have large numbers of people nearby.
“We will open the centers as soon as possible,” he said. “Maybe the 6th or 7th of June.”
Im Suorsdei said some details still must be ironed out, but he is hopeful about setting up new centers in Anlong Veng before voter registration ends June 16.
However, he said the NEC still does not know what to do about the more than 60,000 refugees who fled Cambodia to Thailand to escape fighting.