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To Make Elections Fair, Start Now, Mu Sochua Tells US Groups

Mu Sochua, secretary-general of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, told a group of US democracy advocates Thursday that she could still smell the election ink on her finger. Like many Cambodians, she had gone to the polls in April to vote for commune council representatives, dipping her finger in ink when she was finished to prevent double voting.

Unfortunately, some party leaders and other election observers say, not all the voting carried on with so much transparency. Broken regulations, voter intimidation and systemic biases built in for the Cambodian People's Party helped the ruling party win an overwhelming majority in April.

Mu Sochua told advocates for the National Democracy Institute and the International Republican Institute that 2.5 millions did not vote, though many of them wanted to.

The European Union, she said, had spent millions of dollars on the election, but the National Election Committee had not been neutral, she said.

To take out biases from the CPP, she said, democracy groups needed to begin now to improve the National Election Committee.

Corruption, meanwhile, made Cambodia like a woman with a hole in her fish basket, she said, so that no matter what resources were gathered, much slipped away. The task facing democracy advocates was to patch the hole, she said.