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Alleged Irregularities as Election Campaigning Wraps Up

Cambodian group of comedians and supporters of Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party, take part in a rally on the final campaign for the June 3 commune elections, in Phnom Penh, Friday, June 1, 2012.

Campaigning officially ended Friday for Sunday’s commune council elections, as some parties continued to point to irregularities in a campaign that has been overall cleaner than those in the past.

In one example, a lawmaker for the opposition Human Rights Party in Kandal province on Friday accused ruling party authorities of interfering in a political rally. Ou Bunrith told VOA Khmer that local authorities in Ponhea Leu district blocked the passage of activists, threw cans at them and seized the cables of a loudspeaker in efforts to interrupt the rally.

“I heard of them insulting me,” he said.

Touch Satha, deputy director of the Kandal Provincial Election Committee, dismissed the allegations.

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections said Friday there had been less irregularities in this campaign period compared to 2007, but officials there said around six irregularities per day were reported.

The omission of names from voter lists continued to be a problem, said Thun Saray, who is the president of the rights group Adhoc and who sits as head of the Comfrel board. About 1.5 million eligible voters are not listed for the polls, he said. “The name list is a huge issue for the commune election.”

Tep Nitha, secretary-general of the National Election Committee, disputed the figures. The election body has eliminated around 760,000 names from voter lists since 2008, he said.

For the 8.8 million voters who are eligible, election monitors say they should prepare their documents, check voter lists and follow other procedures to ensure their votes are counted. Cambodian national IDs or passports can be used as identification, as well as civil servant badges and police identification. IDs should not be confused with information cards, which have been distributed to help voters find polling stations and contain other personal information.

Hang Puthea, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections, encouraged voters to check their IDs in advance to make sure they have not expired. Those who have lost or expired IDs can contact the commune clerk to request a new one, he said. He urged companies and factories to allow time off for workers to vote Sunday.

Ten parties will field candidates for nearly 11,600 seats across more than 1,600 communes in Sunday’s election.