A coalition of NGOs, including two independent election monitors, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections and the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections, announced Sunday they would not observe the 2006 Senate elections.
The 14 NGOs, members of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, called the elections “nonsense” and a “waste of money,” in a statement.
“One can estimate and calculate with 100 percent clarity the result of the election,” the statement said. “Only the three parties, CPP, Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy will get support because all the voters are party members…. Money should not be spent on these nonsensical Senate elections.”
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, one of the 14 NGOs involved, said Sunday that appointing senators would be better than election by commune council because it would not waste money.
The NGOs had lobbied for direct public elections of senators and the participation of independent candidates. But the law on Senate elections passed last month calls for senators to be voted for by commune council members and parliamentarians only.
“The coalition is saddened that the recommendations of civil society and other concerned parties were not included in the [Senate election] law,” the statement said.
Last week, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said his party is considering boycotting the elections.
Funcinpec assemblyman Khieu Sorn, who defended the Senate election law before the National Assembly, said he did not care if civil society refused to observe the process. “Who elected them?” he asked of the NGOs.
Khieu Sorn said that the Senate election is democratic because the commune councilors themselves were elected. “It is a first step from appointment to elections,” CPP Senator Ros Chheng, a member of the Senate Legislation Commission, said Sunday.
“Democracy cannot always be perfect,” he added.