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Election Body Hears Recommendations From Outside Parties

Ministry of Interior officials will meet with a delegation of opposition leaders this week to discuss complaints of political bias at the National Election Committee in 2012.
Members of the National Election Committee met with political parties, non-governmental organizations and officials from the Ministry of Interior on Wednesday, to amend procedures for the upcoming national elections.

The NEC took recommendations from organizations like the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, which wants to see independent oversight of local election committees, but so far that recommendation has not been approved.

Only about a quarter of the recommendations brought by outside parties were discussed Wednesday, officials said afterward.

“We discussed a lot the creation of a commission to nominate and control the appointment of local commissions of the election,” including provincial and communal election committees, Koul Panha, executive director for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, a monitoring group, told reporters after the meeting. “And also how to campaign in public places, like in the market, because there are disputes in every election at these places.”

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said that all parties had agreed on some modifications in the wording of the regulations, but that larger points such as those raised by Comfrel were still being looked at.

The NEC has come under criticism by opposition party members as biased toward the ruling party, as the nation heads towards July 28 parliamentary polls.

Sixteen separate recommendations were submitted by outside groups, including the opposition Human Rights and Sam Rainsy parties.

Tep Nitha said that “certain points” were not accepted by the committee, “because they’re not allowed by law.”