Political Party Registration Opens for National Elections

Registration opens on Monday for political parties hoping to field candidates in the upcoming national elections, the National Election Committee (NEC) announced in Phnom Penh on Friday.

The party registration period, which will close on May 13, comes three months before polls open across the country for the July 28 national election.

In a packed meeting room at the NEC headquarters in the Ministry of Interior compound, NEC Deputy President Sin Chumbo said each party that registers will have to make a downpayment of 15 million riel, about $3,760, which will be repaid if the party secures at least 3 percent of the national vote.

“The NEC has only one standard, one procedure that is written into the law in order to be implemented by all political parties, regardless of how big or small they are, and to reflect balance and fairness of the competition,” she said.

Amid demands that the election be postponed until the much-criticized voter registration list is recompiled in a comprehensive and fair manner, the newly created Cambodia Nation­al Rescue Party (CNRP)—a hybrid of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party—has yet to decide whether or not it will register candidates for the vote.

“We have not made any decision yet,” CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said. “We have to consider this, and we’ll discuss it next week.”

The CNRP is also considering a second protest meeting to call for reform at the NEC, and to urge it to delay the election until self-exiled CNRP leader Sam Rainsy is allowed to return to Cam­bodia unmolested by the au­thorities. A rally held on Wednes­day by the party attracted thousands of supporters.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said that while there are 43 registered political parties in the country, only about 10 of those have been active in participating in NEC election meetings.

“During the registration of the previous commune election, there were 10 parties, and after the commune election, some par­ties merged,” Mr. Nytha said.

“So I assume that less than 10 parties will register [for the election],” he added.

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