UN Specialist Urges Restructuring at NEC

A visiting UN elections specialist met with Prince Norodom Ranariddh Thursday to discuss what works—and what doesn’t—at the National Election Com­mittee.

“The UN says the NEC is currently overstaffed,” the prince told reporters after the meeting. “It has 700 workers, and that is too many. If we had fewer staff, but enough money to train them to perform efficiently, it would be better.”

Prince Ranariddh, president of the National Assembly, said he is “fully supportive” of those observations, and that if the CPP supports an overhaul of the NEC, Funcinpec will, too.

“I think reform within the NEC is absolutely necessary,” the prince said, adding that most of the workers were “too polit­ical” and not professional enough.

Tayab Merchoug, who works in the UN’s electoral assistance division, arrived Nov 24 on a two-week fact-finding mission. He is expected to devise recommendations before departing Dec 12.

UN officials stressed Thursday that any changes contemplated  would take place next year and would not affect the Feb 3 commune council elections. Mer­choug plans to meet with top government officials, political leaders, election observers and NEC members before reaching a final conclusion, they said.

Prince Ranariddh said Tayab Merchoug said the NEC is inefficient and bloated, and would function better with fewer political appointees and more independent employees.

He said the Merchoug praised Cambodia for its hard-won political stability, and said the NEC could be restructured by next September, in time for the next parliamentary elections in 2003.

Ranariddh said one solution might be for King Norodom Si­hanouk to appoint a smaller number of politically independent commissioners to the NEC.

Some NGOs have suggested that five commissioners is a more workable number than the current 11. They say most NEC workers are aligned with the CPP instead of being politically neutral. Many NEC workers dispute that, saying they have put aside party loyalties to do the job properly.


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