US Adds $1.8 Million to List of Contributions to Election Committee

The U.S. Agency for International Development announced on Thursday it would give $1.8 million to the National Election Committee (NEC), joining other major foreign funders like China and Japan in financing the country’s upcoming local and national elections.

The two-year U.S. grant is set to be managed by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a nonprofit group supporting free and fair elections. It is to be used to implement voter education campaigns, strengthen election dispute resolution processes and enhance the NEC’s ability to “identify and mitigate weaknesses in the country’s electoral system,” according to a news release.

The money followed nearly $1 million in previous U.S. support for administration training, internal capacity assessment and promoting information about voter registration.

“The new grant will help ensure the NEC follows through on its commitment to effectively administer elections and advance meaningful electoral reform through the commune elections in 2017 and national elections in 2018,” the release says.

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel) was allocated $303,514 of the previous round of U.S. funding for training and deploying voter registration and long-term election observers, and conducting registry audits, U.S. Embassy spokesman Jay Raman had previously said. Another $315,197 was set aside for rights group Adhoc to run a national voter education program, while the NEC received $360,000.

The $1.8 million announced on Thursday was in addition to the $360,000, Mr. Raman said on Thursday.

NEC spokesman Hang Pu thea said the committee would meet with U.S. Embassy officials today to discuss the new funds.

Last month, Mr. Puthea said the government had set aside a budget of $50 million to fund the June 4 commune elections, of which $20.4 million came from overseas—$12 million from China, $7.2 million from the E.U. and $1.2 million from Japan.

Comfrel senior program coordinator Kim Chhorn said the U.S. money was needed to improve voter awareness of the June 4 elections. On Wednesday, Comfrel said that 55.8 percent of respondents in a recent voter survey did not know when Election Day was being held.

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