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Election Problems Persist, Group Warns

Cambodia's political climate has improved since general elections in 2003, but critical problems remain, the US-based National Democratic Institute said Friday.

The group cited as cause for concern judicial intimidation of the opposition, improper removal of eligible voters from registries, and restricted access by competing parties to electronic media.

"We have seen improvement since 2003, especially with respect to the National Election Commission, but this is far from a level playing field and the context is such that one party continues to dominate the entire political system," said Peter Manikas, NDI director of Asia programs.

The National Election Committee was now operating with more transparency, and more women were involved in politics, the group noted, following a five-day visit by international delegates.

"This is free expression, so they can make comments and make some opinions before or during the election period," NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said. "However, NEC is now resolving their concerns."

NDI also recommended the NEC move out of the Ministry of Interior.

Seng Theary, executive director at the Center for Social Development, said the NDI recommendations echoed concerns from civil society.

She fully supported them, she said.