Union Cites Problems Getting Voting Cards

Garment factories closed Jan 31 to Feb 3 to allow workers to register to vote, as members of one union accused commune leaders of discriminatory behavior and of denying them the right to register, union officials said Sunday.

Members of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia cited discrimination at Chak Angre Krom commune and Tuol Sangke commune poll­ing stations, where commune lead­ers allegedly denied about 30 workers voting cards for not providing citizenship proof, Free Trade President Chea Vichea said.

“They discriminated because they are afraid workers will vote for the Funcinpec and Sam Rain­sy parties,” Chea Vichea said. He said workers were again rejected after presenting adequate pictures and letters confirming their identity.

A December Ministry of Interi­or prakas said workers must provide either photo identification or be vouched for by two registered voters of the same commune to register to vote.

National Election Committee spokes­man Leng Sochea on Sun­day disputed the union claims.

“NEC gives a lot of instruction to the Ministry of Interior and to the commune council to register everybody, and to never discriminate against any political party,” he said.

Although workers now may register in Phnom Penh instead of their home provinces, commune chiefs throughout the city have been encouraging workers to return home to register, said Jason Judd, country representative for the American Center for International Labor Solidarity.

“The strength of workers’ votes dissipates if they return to their respective towns,” Judd said.

Between Jan 17 and Jan 31, 421,301 new voters registered, NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said Sunday. He said the NEC has yet to receive reports from 50 communes across the country.

A group of NGOs issued a statement Saturday saying the number of registered voters re­mains low. Phuong Sith, second representative of the Committee for Free and Fair Election, re­quest­ed that the NEC provide more mobile registration units in remote villages.



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