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NDI Debate Schedule Comes Under Fire

The National Election Committee and the smaller of 11 parties competing in July's election say a schedule for aired debates by a non-governmental election group is unfair.

The smaller parties have complained to the NEC about the debate schedule of the National Democratic Institute, among the parliamentary candidates during the election campaign, by providing the "old parties" many more debates than the smaller parties.

There are 31 debates scheduled between the Cambodian People's and Sam Rainsy parties, 22 between the Funcinpec and Norodom Ranariddh parties, and two to three each between the other parties, including the Human Rights Party.

"NDI did not make any unfair or any political discrimination in the preparation of the scheduled debates for political parties," said Ly Sothearayuth, a senior NDI official. "We just instituted the scheduled debates following the criteria of proportionality and equity."

None of the smaller parties, including the Human Rights Party, has seats in national parliament or in any of the country's 1,621 commune councils.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said NDI's debate schedule violated NEC regulations and the principles of equality. NEC officials will meet to discuss this problem with NDI, he said.