Nine Parties Registered; Extension Sought

Two days before the closing of party registration for elections, only nine of the 44 eligible parties have applied and the Sam Rainsy Party is asking for the deadline to be extended.

None of the four parties in the opposition National United Front have turned in the applications to the National Election Committee, officials at the NEC said.

The last day of registration is Thursday under the schedule adopted by the National Assem­bly. However, the parliament voted Tuesday to allow the NEC to change the schedule as it sees fit.

NEC President Chheng Phon said the electoral governing body will meet today or Thursday to discuss other changes to the schedule, he said.

Outspoken politician Sam Rain­sy’s party has called for a three-week extension of party registration to coincide with the delay in the beginning of voter registration that the parliament also approved Tuesday.

The party contends that be­cause candidates must be registered to vote and parties must submit their list of candidates with their ­re­g­istration forms, it is im­possible to re­gister parties before the start of voter registration.

“It is illegal and illogical to delay voter registration without also delaying party registration,” Sam Rainsy said Tuesday.

The electoral law states candidates may temporarily register to vote when submitting their names for candidacy, but must submit their voter registration card number to the NEC within 15 days of the posting of the list of electors in their district.

The party has written to Chheng Phon on the issue and Sam Rainsy is to meet with NEC Vice President Kassie Neou today, according to party official Tioulong Saumura.

Chheng Phon said Tuesday he had not received a letter from Sam Rainsy or his party.

Son Chhay, a BLDP National Assembly member who is to be a candidate for the Sam Rainsy Party in this election, said the party is preparing its applications in case the deadline is not extended.

He denied any suggestion that the party was trying to delay the election on technicalities. “We don’t believe that by delaying we will become more popular. It is ridiculous to accuse us of that.”

The CPP has already submitted its application, as has Ieng Mouly’s Buddhist Liberal Party, the Neang Neak Women’s Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, the Khmer Improvement Party, the Khmer Nationalist Party, the Khmer Citizen’s Party, the Neu­tral Democratic Party and the Cambodian Farmers Party. They are among 44 parties that were previously approved by the Ministry of Interior as legal political parties.

Funcinpec Secretary-General Tol Lah said Sunday he is confident the party will submit its application on time and will be approved.


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