The head of Cambodia’s official election body has said the organization is using a telecommunications company to encourage Cambodians to vote in the upcoming general elections.
Sik Bunhok, chairman of the National Election Committee (NEC), sent a text message to mobile phone users urging people to be “ready and prepared with relevant documents for voting”.
The text message was sent through the Mobitel network, owned by Kith Meng, a tycoon with close personal ties to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s family.
Some 8.4 million Cambodians were registered to vote in the election, according to the latest voter lists.
Korn Savang, an election monitor for Comfrel, a local pro-democracy group, said that officials were working hard to increase the expected voter numbers amid a campaign by the banned former opposition party to boycott the election.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party was dissolved by a court decision in November after its leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested on treason charges.
Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of Nicfec, another election monitoring group, said the NEC, which has been staffed with pro-government officials, was concerned about low voter turnout amid the boycott campaign.
“Not only SMS were sent. They also conducted programs in local communities on several occasions, which are different from the 2017 commune election,” he said. “They worry about voters not going out to vote.”
As well as the text sent through Mobitel, the NEC has since early June made use of several telecoms companies to send information to the electorate.
A spokesman for the NEC could not be reached.