Cambodia’s interior ministry has called on local authorities in the country to make a bigger effort to disseminate identity documents ahead of next week’s general election.
In a statement on Wednesday the ministry ordered commune and district officials to issue documents to voters whose identity cards may have been lost or damaged.
Gen. Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman, said the appeal was made following reports that micro-finance institutions had taken voters’ identity cards to ensure future payments were made.
“We got information from some micro-finance institutions or businessmen who are running pawn shops and took identity cards from the people in exchange for pawning things. For example, the people buy telephones by using identity cards for installments,” he said.
He added that the government was not concerned about a possible low turnout in the election amid an opposition campaign to boycott the vote.
The election may face claims of illegitimacy if it sees a low turnout after the government led a legal case against the former opposition party that resulted in its dissolution and the distribution of its seats in parliament to minor parties that previously won little support among the populace.
But the government claims it was right to facilitate the banning of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which the it claimed had conspired with foreign powers to overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen by force.
Meas Nee, a social development researcher, said while a low turnout would not hinder the formation of a new government, it would reflect poorly on the ruling party.
“When there is no support from the international community, I think Cambodia will walk a difficult road in the long-term,” he said.