Cambodia

Local Election Monitors Share Concern for Legitimate Elections

The envoy, Surya Subedi, said in a statement this week the National Election Committee must be reformed .

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Sok KhemaraVOA Khmer
WASHINGTON DC - Local election monitors in Cambodia say they too are worried about the legitimacy of the 2013 national elections, following sharp criticism by the UN’s special envoy for human rights.

The envoy, Surya Subedi, said in a statement this week the National Election Committee must be reformed and the opposition allowed a chance to fairly contest the elections if they are to be considered legitimate.

Puthea Hang, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said civic groups in the country want similar reforms, but that many of them are opposed by the ruling party.

The NEC is often accused of political bias toward the Cambodian People’s Party and has been criticized for complicated voter registration and other administrative processes that make it difficult for some people to vote and makes it easy for local officials of the ruling party to influence the vote in the party’s favor.

Puthea Hang’s concerns echo those of Subedi, who completed a trip to Cambodia this year and said this week the upcoming election risks further eroding the trust of Cambodians in the democratic process. His statements were strongly objected to by government officials.

However, Puthea Hang said Subedi’s report was aimed at improving Cambodia’s election process. Civil society wants improved elections that are free and fair and credible, he said.

“Cambodia passed through the wars of many regimes,” he said. “The outcome was mutual fighting and the deaths of people from every faction. So what is acceptable in Cambodia is for all the parties to grab their rights and roles and lead the country through peaceful means, through an election.”
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Yearlong Political Deadlock Endsi
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22 July 2014
Cambodia’s political deadlock has ended. For nearly a year, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has refused to join the government, calling for electoral reforms in a system it says was deeply flawed. Following nearly five hours of meetings between top opposition officials and Prime Minister Hun Sen, that deadlock has ended. The two sides finally reached agreement on a formula for selecting the National Election Committee, which the Rescue Party has said was biased toward the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Hun Sen and Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy emerged from talks Tuesday smiling and shaking hands. “Victory,” Hun Sen told reporters after the meeting. “You can all applaud.” (Heng Reaksmey, Phnom Penh)

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