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More Than 160,000 Election Observers to Oversee Poll: NEC


FILE: National Election Committee (NEC) to lucky draw to set number labelling political party for upcoming ballot, in Phnom Penh, on May 29, 2018. (Khan Sokummono/ VOA Khmer)

The National Election Committee (NEC) increased the estimate from a previous figure of about 50,000, saying the observers were fairly evenly split between civil society groups and political party observers.

More than 160,000 election observers will monitor the general election next week, according to the official election body.

The National Election Committee (NEC) increased the estimate from a previous figure of about 50,000, saying the observers were fairly evenly split between civil society groups and political party observers.

Some 107 organizations will send observers to polling stations, according to a statement released by the NCE on Wednesday.

The government has been keen to give off the image of a free and open election, touting the high numbers of observers in response to the withdrawal of election funding by the European Union and United States and decision not to observe the election by a number of prominent and respected NGOs.

Critics have pointed to the number of pro-government groups involved in the election monitoring effort, with tens of thousands of the election observers referred to by the NEC coming from a youth organization headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son, which has also been accused of intimidating voters.

FILE: Hang Puthea talks to journalists after the meeting at National Election Committee on 27 June 2018. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)
FILE: Hang Puthea talks to journalists after the meeting at National Election Committee on 27 June 2018. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

Hang Puthea, NEC spokesman, however, said there would be twice the number of election observers compared with the 2013 election.

“This is a demonstration of the progress of democracy...the number of political parties has increased and observers are very keen,” he said.

He added that some 200 international observers would take part, without specifying which countries they came from, though some are believed to be from Myanmar and other countries in the region with less than stellar democratic track records.

FILE: Korn Savang, Monitoring coordinator for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (Comfrel) discusses "Senate Election Process and Credibility" with host Sok Khemara on VOA Khmer's Hello VOA radio call-in show, Thursday, February 15, 2018. (VOA Khmer)
FILE: Korn Savang, Monitoring coordinator for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (Comfrel) discusses "Senate Election Process and Credibility" with host Sok Khemara on VOA Khmer's Hello VOA radio call-in show, Thursday, February 15, 2018. (VOA Khmer)

Korn Savang, a monitoring coordinator at NGO Comfrel, which observed the 2013 election, said it was important to study the makeup of the election observer organizations.

“If an organization has a bias, where does it come from and how is it made? This is important,” he said. “We evaluate observers with these points. Just because there are many participants or many observers does not mean their work is good.”

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