A top board member for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation told government officials this weekend that delaying commune elections is better than holding them unprepared.
Josef Thesing, director of international affairs for the pro-democracy foundation based in Germany, said any plan for commune elections must include a substantial amount of time for preparations to assure a smooth vote and transition.
“More important than having the elections, is having them be successful,” Thesing told reporters shortly before leaving Monday afternoon. “If they’re a failure, then that’s a setback for democracy.”
Government officials have been criticized by some NGOs of lackluster preparation efforts for the local polls, which were originally scheduled to be held last year.
Thesing, who has worked in international relations for 35 years, did not say when he thought the vote should be held but said they should not be put off indefinitely. They are tentatively scheduled for late this year.
“This should be a priority for leaders committed to democracy,” he said.
Thesing met with Prime Minister Hun Sen for an hour and 20 minutes and said he was convinced the premier is committed to further democratization of Cambodia, and particularly to a sound local-level election.
“There’s political will to do it. But they can’t do it well under pressure,” Thesing said.
Currently, CPP loyalists hold virtually all commune chief posts nationwide, with many of them holding their posts since the 1980s.