Vote Monitors Expect Few Draft Law Changes

Cambodia’s two ruling parties are reluctant to change communal election draft laws as proposed by the country’s three main election-related NGOs, election monitors say.

“They won’t be able to control the situation if they change the sys­tem too much. They won’t know how to control their network,” said Thun Saray, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia.

Elections monitors gathered Wednesday to list election-related de­mands that resulted from meetings with party leaders.

At the top of that list: make the Na­tional Election Committee smaller and more politically neutral. The committee was roundly  cri­ticized during the 1998 national elections for favoring the CPP.

Monitors have also pushed for laws requiring candidates for commune leadership to be independent of political parties, to make it harder for a single party to dominate commune councils.

Though CPP and Fun­cinpec officials including Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Nor­odom Ran­ariddh say they support these measures, they have not prom­ised to lobby par­liamentarians.

“But the leaders’ message is very serious. We hope [National Assembly members] follow them. They all agree, [so] how is it they cannot change?” asked election monitor Riel Lary.

Monitors plan to next meet with members of Assembly commissions. An earlier meeting with Inspection Commission members failed to produce an agreement on candidate selection.

Though the government has promised the elections will occur, no date has been set. Only one of two election law drafts has been com­pleted and the other remains stalled at the ministerial level as officials and NGOs debate how candidates should be chosen.



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