Opposition to Boycott Vote on National Election Committee

The country’s two leading opposition parties say they will boycott Thursday’s National Assembly session to protest what they consider the politicized reshuffling of the National Election Committee (NEC).

The Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) and Human Rights Party (HRP) have in recent weeks stepped up their demands that the government form a multi-party committee to select new members for the NEC—which they accuse of favoring the ruling CPP—ahead of next year’s national elections.

The Interior Ministry has repeatedly rejected the request. It has also defended the NEC as being fully independent, while refusing to release any details about the new list of NEC members ahead of Thursday’s vote.

“The SRP and HRP will boycott the meeting on Thursday to approve NEC members because all the candidates were selected by the ruling party and it has not responded to problems with previous elections,” the opposition parties said in a joint statement issued Friday.

“The national and international communities will only think this is a democracy and accept the elections when the opposition joins in changing the NEC members,” they added.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha dismissed the threat.

“It is their right to join the meeting or not,” he said yesterday.

The CPP holds a super-majority in the Lower House and can approve the new NEC list without the opposition.

But SRP lawmaker and party spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday repeated the opposition’s recent threat to boycott the elections themselves unless the government makes the NEC more inclusive.

“We are waiting to see the will of the CPP to consider a boycott of the elections in 2013,” he said.

The SRP and HRP have already refused to participate in the monitoring of the current voter registration process, which ends Friday, to protest allegations of irregularities.

The SRP’s youth wing plans on adding to the pressure on the government with a march on the National Assembly and Interior Ministry on October 23 to deliver petitions demanding the NEC’s reform.

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