Provincial Election Committees To Be Chosen

The National Election Commit­tee has started recruiting provincial election officials in all of Cambodia’s 24 provinces and municipalities to oversee the upcoming national election, officials said Monday.

The NEC has so far divided into eight groups, each responsible for recruiting provincial election committees in three pro­vinces, said Tep Nitha, NEC secretary-general, on Monday. Besides overseeing the election process in the prov­inces, the PECs are responsible for recruiting the district election officials, he said.

The NGO Committee for Free and Fair Elections is also sending out its monitors to check the NEC’s recruitment drive, said Koul Panha, director of Comfrel, on Monday.

“We want to find out whether the recruitment is transparent or not and whether the PEC officers have the ability to their job or not,” Koul Panha said.

He also rallied against allowing members from the three major political parties to apply and be considered as PEC officials, saying that they will not be neutral. The vast majority of PEC officials elected are from the ruling CPP, he said. Seventy-six percent of the PEC officials during the 1998 National Election were affiliated with the CPP.

Only monks, military police officers, policemen and court officials are officially exempt from applying or serving as PEC officials, Tep Nitha said.

The recruiting period is scheduled to end on April 27, and the NEC is tentatively set to appoint PECs by April 29, Tep Nitha said.

To be chosen for a PEC, candidates must live in the area they represent and have some experience in the election process, he said. NGO officials, government officials and officials from political parties can also apply, he said.

“PEC officials must be neutral, and the NEC will regulate them to ensure they respect the law, Tep Nitha said. “We won’t allow them to be biased toward any political party.”

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