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Coalition Joins Calls for Election Reforms

Cambodian workers look through a partition of a construction site below a banner which reads "Where is my vote" as supporters of opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party gather in Phnom Penh, file photo.
A group of 20 separate civic organizations on Tuesday called on the ruling party and opposition to amend the constitution and laws to allow free and fair elections.

The Electoral Reform Alliance, a new coalition of NGOs, said it wants a reformed National Election Committee and better rules for voter registration, as well as equal access to media for all parties.

“If there are not free and fair elections, policymakers and politicians will not make any effort to serve the country,” said Thun Saray, chairman of the board for the election monitor Comfrel. “They will of course focus on fraud and vote-buying. And that is harmful for democracy and the country’s development.”

The alliance on Tuesday met with donors, international organizations and other experts at a seminar in Phnom Penh, where they discussed reforms.

“The country must have a sound electoral policy, a truly independent National Election Committee or commission, and a truly independent civil service, truly independent policy, truly independent army, and equitable access to the media,” the UN’s human rights envoy to Cambodia, Surya Subedi, said.