NGOs Call for Vote Reform, New Election

A re-election should be held in 2015 following the implementation of a comprehensive series of electoral reforms, an umbrella group of local rights organizations and independent election monitors said Friday.

The organizations, including the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (Comfrel), Adhoc, the Community Legal Education Center, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights and NGO Forum, made the call for a revote at a press conference in Phnom Penh, saying that irregularities during the July 28 election had favored Prime Minister Hun Sen’s long-ruling CPP.

The reforms should encompass an overhaul of the National Election Committee and the Cambodian Constitutional Council, a re-jig of the voter registration system and a new law on party financing, the groups said in a statement released after the conference.

“This statement is also about resolving the current political situation and to curb the conflicts and social ills that keep happening,” Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia (TIC), said, referring to violence that has broken out at some post-election protests.

Koul Panha, executive director of Comfrel, said that the NGOs’ requests would be submitted to the CPP and the opposition CNRP.

“We now urge both parties to hold re-elections,” Mr. Panha said.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said Friday that a re-election was impossible.

“This is just the opinion of the civil societies…re-elections are not possible,” before the end of the fifth mandate in 2018, he said, before declining to further comment.

A report released last month by a coalition of NGOs, including TIC and Comfrel, found that the CPP saw a significant increase in its share of votes in areas where the most irregularities were reported on election day.

Calls by the NGOs for a re-vote echo the opposition’s latest demands. While the CNRP had initially called for an investigation into electoral irregularities, in the past month they have demanded complete re-vote and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s resignation.

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