Observers Say Registration Improving, but Complaints Persist

The fourth day of registering Cambodia’s 6.2 million voters for February’s commune elections saw improvements, according to Koul Panha, director of the election monitor Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

Almost all of the group’s ap­prox­imately 3,000 observers have received the identification cards that are necessary to enter the registration sites, while many observers who don’t yet have cards are nonetheless being allowed to enter the sites, he said.

“Now we are happy,” said Koul Panha. “I think we will learn a lot…for the coming election.”

Sek Sophal of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections echoed that sentiment Tuesday, saying “today was better.” But he said some election workers are still complaining that they have not received materials.

Koul Panha said Comfrel ob­servers in Phnom Penh still do not have identification cards and are being kept out of the registration stations.

There were also  reports of armed soldiers and po­licemen standing inside registration stations in Kompong Cham and Svay Rieng provinces, he said. In addition, a group of Phnom Penh garment workers who traveled to Kompong Cham on a three-day holiday were unable to register when election workers said they must wait a few days for another registration site to open, Koul Panha said.

Teams of election workers are moving throughout Cambodia’s communes, spending three days at each registration site.

By law, voters can register at any station within their commune.

But Comfrel observers reported Tuesday that many voters are being told by inflexible election workers that they must wait until another station opens to register.

Comfrel will begin broadcasting registration information on FM 102 and FM 97.5 this week.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann said in a statement Tuesday that party workers continue to say that commune election staff are poorly informed, registration equipment has still not reached some communes, more administrative documents than le­gally required are being demanded from  voters and some stations are planning to close Aug 10—six days earlier than legally allowed.



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