Cambodia

Biased Policies Jeopardizing July Election, Opposition Says

Cambodian Buddhist monk, right, casts his ballot in local elections at Wat Than pagoda's polling station in Phnom Penh, file photo. Cambodian Buddhist monk, right, casts his ballot in local elections at Wat Than pagoda's polling station in Phnom Penh, file photo.
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Cambodian Buddhist monk, right, casts his ballot in local elections at Wat Than pagoda's polling station in Phnom Penh, file photo.
Cambodian Buddhist monk, right, casts his ballot in local elections at Wat Than pagoda's polling station in Phnom Penh, file photo.
Sok KhemaraVOA Khmer
WASHINGTON DC - Opposition leaders say Cambodia faces critical problems in its election procedures that must be addressed ahead of July polls.

Yim Sovann, a lawmaker for the Sam Rainsy Party, told “Hello VOA” Thursday that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party is making decisions on its own, leading toward an election that will not be free and fair.

“Only in Cambodia does the ruling party make its own decisions and compete in its own boxing match,” he said.

Opposition leaders are calling on the National Election Committee, which they see as biased toward the ruling party, to make changes in its policies before the vote is held.

This year’s parliamentary election, which is slated for July 28, may not be recognized by the international community, Yim Sovann said. The electoral system is plagued with “fraud” and “cheating,” he said, and the election will not be seen as “free and fair and credible.”

The Sam Rainsy Party has counted some 700,000 suspicious names, he said. And the NEC does not have equal representation of parties at the local levels.

Biased Policies Jeopardizing July Election, Opposition Says
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Yem Ponhearith, a lawmaker for the opposition Human Rights Party, said after an election that is not credible, “voters really cannot quietly stand to watch the country dying.”

“Leaders, as well as the NEC, have an obligation to organize a free and fair election if we do not want a problem occurring after the election,” he said.

The opposition parties will merge as the Cambodia National Rescue Party for the election, hoping to improve their number of seats in the National Assembly or defeat the ruling Cambodian Peoples Party.

“The parties are not merging together for power, not merging to share power,” he said. “The sun rises: get up and rescue our country. We should not be allowed to be numbed, to be confused, through sarongs, seasoning, money, or empty positions, by people who betray their conscience.”

The Rescue Party will train monitors to help prevent fraud and misconduct during the polls this year, he said.

In this election, the choice will be clear, between the ruling party and the opposition, he said, and “whether you want to live like you do today, or you want to have a better living standard and progress.”
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