NGOs Criticize Rule ‘Limiting’ Mobile Election Observer Numbers

Election-monitoring NGOs have raised concerns over changes to election rules that they fear could limit the number of mobile election observers that they will be allowed to field.

A new draft of election regulations describes a mobile national observer as “the leader of a community or non-governmental organization who NEC decided to recognize and allow to observe the process of updating the voting list and voting registration.”

Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia director Sam Kuntheamy said the definition was limiting. “It is not necessary to limit the position. It depends on each organization,” he said, adding that the NEC should remove the clause from the draft and let organizations define observers.

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said the NEC usually limits accreditation to 10 mobile observers per organization, which he said was already not enough. About 350 provincial-level mobile observers were registered during last month’s commune elections, he said, while about 30 to 50 mobile observers traveled cross-country.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said the definition did not mean applicants needed to be directors, but that they should be managers.

“[T]he person who is not the director also can get it [accreditation], as long as the person…is the one who manages all the forces, and who is not the staffer,” he said. Mr. Puthea said the NEC would decide on the proposed changes, including the article defining the mobile observer, this week.

(Additional reporting by Hannah Hawkins)

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