Registration Problems Cited

Thousands of instances of partisan behavior and hundreds of cases of physical intimidation are behind Cambodia’s lower-than-expected voter registration turnout, election monitors have claimed.

In a joint statement issued Friday, the three main monitoring groups in Cambodia cited factors ranging from inadequate training of election officials to confusion over registration re­quire­ments and shortages of registration equipment for what they termed low voter registration.

Eighty-three percent of Cambo­dia’s more than 6 million eligible voters registered between July and August, the National Election Committee has reported.

The three groups said they had “serious concerns” about the Feb­ruary commune elections, given the registration problems. They recommended increased voter education and training of election officers, giving enough time to each step in the election process, and strengthening the neutrality of election officials.

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections, which said it posted observers at 86 percent of the country’s 12,378 stations, reported that:

• Information on registration and the 1998 voter lists were not well-publicized in 21 percent of stations.

• Election officials displayed “non-neutral behavior” or followed improper procedures at 24 percent of stations.

• A total of 652 people classified as “unidentified” or as illegal immigrants were allowed to register at 100 stations.

• Threats or intimidation were reported at 598 stations.

The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, which posted ob­serv­ers in 16 provinces and municipalities, reported:

• A shortage of registration materials or equipment in 1,378 cases.

• “Improper performance” by election officials in 1,722 cases.

• “Improper performance” by local officials in 1,013 cases.

• Corruption and threats in 266 cases.

The Neutral Impartial Com­mittee for Free and Fair Elections reported that military and police officials were allowed to register more than once in some areas.



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