Safety ‘Key’ to Free Elections

Government and National El­ection Committee officials said Monday that protecting election box­es and polling places is key to proving Cambodians can hold their own elections.

Tea Chamrath, security coordinator for the NEC, said election security could also determine whether the international community regards the election as free and fair. “This is what we have to prove to them, that we can successfully hold [elections],” he said at a press conference. “It will show that we could have held it successfully under our own preparation.”

Interior co-ministers You Hock­ry and Sar Kheng also stressed the need for election security. The national, local and military po­lice and the army all are to contribute to a security force.

The NEC security plan, passed earlier this month by the Council of Ministers, calls for a $4 million force of 70,000 men. The Finance Ministry will allocate the funds.

In 1993, the UN supplied 20,000 troops to provide security.

The NEC security force’s re­sponsibilities are protecting the transportation of ballot boxes to the communal election committees, securing the area around the polling sites and protecting election ob­servers, politicians and political party representatives.

Health workers also will be alerted in case of an election at­tack. In 1993, the Khmer Rouge threatened to attack poll­ing stations, but officials say this year should be safer after the Khmer Rouge’s apparent collapse.

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