Selection of Elections Committee Delayed

Cambodia’s three main election monitoring groups Monday successfully convinced the National Election Committee to reopen nominations for the NGO Coordinating Committee.

The NEC had planned to elect seven candidates and three alternates from a list of 11 to the coordinating committee, to be responsible for training and monitoring in the 2002 commune elections.

But watchdog groups Comfrel, Coffel and Nicfec convinced the NEC to accept applicants for two more days, moving the election back to Saturday.

Comfrel representative Hul Panha attacked the NEC for not checking out the backgrounds of the 11 original candidates to see if they had proper experience.

“We would love to see this committee as a credible, strong body that represents the voice of NGOs,” he said. “We don’t want to see it turned into a scarecrow committee.”

The vote at Monday’s NEC meeting was 33-21 in favor of reopening the nominations. NEC Deputy Chairman Kassie Neou then tried to join the two sides.

“I don’t want to see our NGOs divided like this, compromising each other,” he said. “Otherwise, the public and the donors will have a bad image of us.”

Kassie Neou then brokered a compromise allowing candidates to sign up by Wednesday. On Thurs­day, a committee made of representatives from the NEC, the three election monitors, the Ministry of the Interior and a new NGO run by NEC member Chea Chamroeun, a CPP supporter, will examine the applications.

The NGO Coordinating Com­mittee must be formed by June 20, a month before voter registration starts, NEC Deputy General Director Huoy Sophoan reassured a group of voters who feared more delays.

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