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Political Parties Feud Over Commune Election Rules


 Cambodian workers look through a partition of a construction site below a banner which reads "Where is my vote" as supporters of opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party gather in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.

Cambodian workers look through a partition of a construction site below a banner which reads "Where is my vote" as supporters of opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party gather in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.

Currently, campaigning is allowed for 15 days prior to the vote and must end 24 hours before the polling booths open.

Cambodia’s two major political parties are at loggerheads over the draft rules governing the forthcoming local elections, with the ruling party attempting to limit civil society campaigning ahead of the vote.

On Thursday, the National Election Committee (NEC) published draft rules that will govern the elections, with the ruling party saying it needed to restrict the activities of civil society groups.

Sok Eysan, Cambodian People’s Party spokesman, told reporters said there would be no way to monitor the amount of time non-governmental campaigns lasted, which could lead to breaches of the election law.

Meng Sopheary, an opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party official, said the party had requested that 37 points be amended to allow more space for political campaigning, a better complaints procedure and mechanisms for recounts.

“We see that the duration [for filing complaints] is short, so we won’t be able to assess the outcomes properly,” she said. “We also believe there are other points that should be changed.”

She said the NEC had accepted about half of the CNRP’s requested amendments.

Other requests for amendments have been lodged by political parties, government officials and legislative bodies.

Currently, campaigning is allowed for 15 days prior to the vote and must end 24 hours before the polling booths open.

Koul Panha, executive director of election monitor Comfrel, said his NGO had requested that the election results be posted online for public scrutiny.

“When the people can’t to go to see the result at the polling station, they could still be able to see it via the Internet,” he said.

The CPP won more than 1,500 communes in 2012 out of a possible 1,633 nationwide, with more than 8,000 councilors elected, leading it to dominate local politics.

The CNRP meanwhile won control of only 40 communes, but has about 3,000 councilors around the country.

The country’s third-larges party, Funcinpec, saw only one commune chief and a district councilor elected in 2012, with about 150 commune and district councilors overall.

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