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EU Election Experts to Help Committee

The European Commission is providing two technical experts to the National Election Committee in order to strengthen the agency for national elections in 2012.

Alexandre Castanias, a media and communications advisor, and Eric des Pallieres, a complaint and procedural advisor, joined the NEC Wednesday, the agency said in a statement.

The two will help the government body “in both legal affairs and media affairs” Rafael Dochao Moreno, charges d’affaires of the European Commission Cambodia mission, told reporters after penning an agreement with the NEC Wednesday.

Cambodia is preparing for district- and provincial-level elections in May, but the two experts, who are expected to stay through the end of 2009, will mostly help the NEC prepare for national elections in 2012.

“The two experts will be working with the NEC and will help as media or public relations and will help us make legal reports following international standards,” NEC Chairman Im Soursdey said Wednesday.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, of the Sam Rainsy Party, welcomed the experts, but said he did not expect them to change the NEC’s system, which he called biased toward the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Son Chhay appealed for the European Commission to help the NEC hold elections that are free and fair.

“The NEC system needs more experts from foreign countries, such as the European Union, to train in the technical system or reporting,” Hang Puthea, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said. “This is lucky, that the EU provided two experts to the NEC.”

He said he hoped in the upcoming election NEC’s election system would change.