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Monitor Counts Irregularities at Half of Last Month’s Polling Stations

Cambodian Buddhist monk, right, casts his ballot in local elections at Wat Than pagoda's polling station in Phnom Penh, Sunday, June 3, 2012.

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections said Wednesday Cambodia needs to reform the National Election Committee ahead of parliamentary polls next July.

The independent monitoring organization counted 3,000 irregularities at 5,810 polling stations in last month’s local elections, it announced Wednesday.

The NEC must be improved if elections in the country are to be considered free and fair, said Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, who also heads Comfrel.

“Comfrel urgently urges the government, donors and civil society to start discussing the improved composition of the NEC,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Considerations include improved registration practices, more accurate voter lists, proper investigations of complaints, improved freedom of expression and media, access to information by all parties and enforced neutrality of armed forces and civil servants, Thun Saray said.

Officials from the opposition Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties said they agreed with the findings, having filed numerous complaints in last month’s commune council elections.

Tep Nitha, secretary-general of the National Election Committee, acknowledged there had been “some irregularities” during this year’s election. The national body will hold meetings among its provincial arms in the next two months to “consider challenges we met” during the election, he said.