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Election Watchdog Discusses Parliamentary Expansion on 'Hello VOA'

Cambodian representatives of the US's National Democratic Institute, Preap Kol and Lee Sothearayuth, joined "Hello VOA" Thursday, to discuss the state of Cambodian democracy ahead of the 2008 national elections.

Three callers participated, suggesting the election process should be better organized for 2008 than it was in April's commune elections. NEC should simplify the voting system, they said, criticizing the government election body as biased toward the ruling party.

The callers cited a deeply flawed commune election as proof the current system does not work. Many voters were unable to cast ballots, in polls that saw a turnout that was much lower than in elections past.

Preap Kol and Lee Sothearayuth both acknowledged that some improvements had been made in election organizing, but said the system still needed fixing. They both said that in the 2008 national election, NGOs should be involved in the process to help people with voter identification cards and to help eliminate the confusion that may have kept some voters from the polls in April.

The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit organization working to strengthen and expand democracy internationally. The group provides training and assistance to pro-democracy groups and educates citizens for better participation in elections in developing countries like Cambodia.