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High Registration Could Mean 'Rigged' Elections, US Group Warns

The determination of Cambodian voters, reflected in high voter registration, is admirable, but the chance for the election being "rigged" remains, a US democracy group told VOA Saturday.

Sunday's commune elections have nearly 8 million registered voters, but the number of votes that come in will indicate whether registration was legitimate, said Cynthia Bunton, Director of the Asia Division for the International Republican Institute.

A number too high would "lend some credence to what we were hearing back in October, which was basically that the registration process was rigged and that it benefits the ruling party," she said, referring to the Cambodian People's Party.

In the 2003, IRI sent a team of observers to the general elections. It did not send any this year but is supporting a group of 10 Iraqi monitors who are now in the country to learn how other countries conduct elections.

IRI has also been working with the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, the Cambodian Youth Council and various Cambodian political parties to promote democracy and the respect for human rights.

Bunton said Cambodians have been through a lot and she respects the way they have been able to "move on and look forward to the future."

She urged Cambodians to "get out to vote and good luck."