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NEC Defends Voter List Clean-Up as Registration Ends

The National Election Committee Monday strongly defended its voter registration clean-up Monday, saying the removal of illegible names from voter lists had been done in accordance to procedure, as voter registration came to a close.

The NEC has come under heavy criticism from opposition parties, which say the clean-up swiped names of legitimate voters with opposition leanings from the lists. This included impeding new voters from registering through the deadline Saturday, party leaders have said.

Regulations allow for the removal of names of those who are ineligible, such as the deceased, those who have changed their addresses, have duplicate names or are prisoners or non-residents.

Opposition officials said Monday they knew of ruling party clerks removing names of opposition supports from lists without proper justification.

"In Phnom Penh, 10,000 people were processed in one hour, and in other places, in 20 villages, they did it in one morning," SRP legislator Ho Van said. "This means there is no thinking." Puthea Hang, director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia, said many district clerks were not heeding the directives of the NEC and were arbitrarily removing names from lists.

A district the clerk removed 9,899 names, keeping only 487 among over 10,000 eligible voters in Phnom Penh's Tonle Bassac district, Phal Sithon, SRP second deputy clerk, said.

But "the people have not protested," he admitted. "Some of them are busy going to make a living. Most of them did not protest. Speaking frankly, they did not protest."

Tonle Bassac district clerk Khat Narith declined comment.

Commune council members adopted the procedures properly, and name removals were done with little difference in each district, NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said.

The first registration lists will be posted Oct. 25, he said.