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Decentralization Demands Participation: Expert

People in local communities can exercise their rights to speak with representatives and the authorities and watch the development of Cambodia’s recent decentralization bid, a leading democracy monitor said Monday.

“People can make a request if they have any concerns about the community,” said Kim Chhorn, a senior program coordinator for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

“Those are the internal rules of the commune council,” he said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

A community of 6,000 people needs to have the support of just 50 to bring a concern the meeting agendas. A community of 30,000 people needs 150 people to make such a request, he said.

“People can have a pre-meeting among themselves to define what the problems are and send three representatives to the commune council,” he said.

Encounters they expect are that some local authorities will not cooperate with the people or allow them to join forums.

Kim Chhorn said the rights of the people were under a local rule but a constitutional stipulation guaranteeing the right of assembly and participation.

Development without the participation of the people is “useless,” he said, because it’s not the development that people want.

Comfrel plans to have forums in 12 provinces to help people meet the local authorities and representatives to share their concerns and problems and find solutions. The forums will also help people understand the roles of local authorities in the communes and districts, and to understand the role of the citizen.