Registration Looms With Uncertainties

Commune candidate registration will begin as scheduled Sunday, with many of the limitations originally set in place by the National Election Committee still standing and opposition party members fearful of disqualification, officials said Friday.

Under the election laws, if one candidate from a party is found ineligible, the party cannot re­place him in that commune, said Im Sousdey, secretary-general of the National Election Com­mittee.

“We are worried about the age [requirements],” said Hul Thol, a Sam Rainsy Party NEC official.

The party is concerned a committee might wait until the end of the 45-day dispute period following candidate registration to point out Sam Rainsy age discrepancies, thereby disqualifying an opposition party member from that commune, Hul Thol said.

The registration period will be three days and open to any candidates who can prove they are Cambodian nationals, officials confirmed at a press conference Friday afternoon. Eligible candidates must be able to read and write Khmer script and be at least 25 years old by polling day—Feb 3—officials said. Due to the size of the commune council elections local officials are expected to receive at least 10,000 names.

An NEC official said that while some communes in remote areas might not field many candidates, as many as six or seven parties are expected to contest other communes in population centers.

The three-day registration process will be open to anyone,  during which individual commune election committees will have “no power to reject [the applicant] or ask any question,” according to an unofficially translated NEC statement.

“The chairman of all [provincial election committees] and [commune election committees] should communicate this directive widely and see to its effective implementation,” it said.

Once a committee ap­proves a candidate, death, or cancellation will not rule out a party’s right to retain another candidate.

(Ad­di­tional reporting by Jody Mc­Phillips)


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