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Complaint Changes NDI Debate Schedule

The National Democratic Institute on Wednesday moved its political debates from a principle of "equity" to one of "equality," a move election and party officials described as a legally fair act.

The new debate schedule will ensure more time for smaller parties but will take away some time from debate between the major parties. NDI changed its schedule at the behest of the National Election Committee, which had received complaints from smaller parties that the previous schedule had been unfair.

"We changed our scheduled program debates to equality for all political parties and reduced the number of scheduled debates from 31 to 22," Ly Sothearayuth, a senior NDI official, said Wednesday.

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha called the change "justice for political parties...which provides more interest to the voters."

"And this move will benefit free and fair elections in July," he said.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha welcomed the NDI decision, describing it as a "positive step in conformity with Cambodian election law and the principle of democracy for all political parties."

"NEC and NDI are moving to strengthen their cooperation to work toward free and fair elections," he said.