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Amid Calls for Election Boycott, Election Body Prepares to Roll Out Polling Stations Nationwide

Students register to participate in a campaign by the National Election Committee, NEC, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, May 9, 2018. NEC on Wednesday held its campaign with the teachers and students on the disseminate awareness of the law on the organization and functioning of the election law for the 2018 general election. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Prime Minister Hun Sen has previously said that not voting in the election was tantamount to treason.

Cambodia’s national election body has announced it is preparing to deploy almost a quarter of a million polling stations across the country ahead of the July 29 election.

The National Election Committee (NEC) made the announcement shortly after closing the party registration period on Monday.

Sam Rainsy, the former head of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was dissolved last year by a Supreme Court decision, meanwhile appealed to the electorate to boycott the vote.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has previously said that not voting in the election was tantamount to treason.

Hang Puthea, NEC spokesman, told VOA Khmer on Tuesday that the body had six officials organizing the 240,000 polling stations across Cambodia’s 25 provinces and municipal regions.

He claimed that Rainsy’s call for people to boycott the vote was illegal.

“It's contrary to the law and society where 20 political parties registered in the election, while the people are also ready. So, what they say contradicted the law,” he said.

“It's an act of showing political monopoly, announcing that unless there is the CNRP, the people cannot vote. The law and democracy don't state there should be this or that political party,” he added.

However, Rainsy said on Facebook that the election would be “fake” if the country’s main opposition party was not reinstated.

“We must continue the resistance we started in 2013 by boycotting the fake election in 2018. This time, staying at home means voting in our hearts for the CNRP,” he wrote.

Rhona Smith, the U.N.’s human rights envoy to Cambodia, has said that the election would not be “genuine if the main opposition party is barred from taking part.”

Four political parties, including the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, have registered for the election. Other than the CPP, the Cambodian Youth Party, Khmer National United Party, and Funcinpec Party will contest the vote. Only the CPP and dissolved CNRP previously held any seats in the National Assembly.