PM OKs Relocation of Election Committee

Prime Minister Hun Sen has ap­proved the National Election Com­mit­tee’s plans to move from the In­te­rior Ministry complex to a building next to the Supreme Court’s new Russei Keo district location, NEC spokesman Leng Sochea said Tuesday.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen al­rea­dy agreed” to move the committee to a new building, Leng Sochea said.

The NEC’s Interior Ministry lo­ca­tion has been a bone of conten­tion for critics of the committee who allege that it is government-controlled, and some observers he­ralded the new location as a step toward independence.

“We need a neutral location in or­der to avoid criticism,” NEC Se­c­re­tary-General Tep Nitha said.

But critics say that the move is on­ly a symbolic change, missing the real issue: balance and transparency in how members of the com­mittee are selected.

“It is not important to change the location,” opposition senator Thach Setha said. “If the NEC wants to be independent, they should change its structure.”

Committee for Free and Fair Elec­tions director Koul Panha praised the decision to move as a “big improvement,” but said much still needs to be done.

“It is better than inside the buildings of the Ministry of Interior,” he said, adding that the new building must be designed to offer public ac­cess. “Especially for the media, for the observer, access to the build­ing is important.”

He added that laws must be amended to make the election of committee members balanced and transparent.

“The people are very important,” Koul Panha said. “It’s not just the building.”

Hang Puthea, director of the Neu­tral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia, con­curred that the move is a positive step, but said more needs to be done before observers will re­gard the NEC as truly independent.

 

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