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Opposition Seeks Talks With National Election Committee

Opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha in VOA Studio In Washington, DC, file photo.
Opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha in VOA Studio In Washington, DC, file photo.
WASHINGTON DC - Cambodia’s opposition parties have asked to meet with members of its election committee, seeking to deliver recommendations for improved elections in July.

The opposition says the National Election Committee is biased toward the ruling party, leading to faulty voter registration and elections that risk being seen as illegitimate by the international community.

Their concerns include the ruling party’s near monopoly on broadcast and print media, the use of state property and civil servants for campaigning and a lack of opposition representation in local election committees.

The National Election Committee on Wednesday said opposition leaders must put their request in formally, in writing, if they are unhappy with the election procedures.

Kem Sokha, head of the opposition Human Rights Party, and Kong Koam, acting head of the Sam Rainsy Party, whose leader remains in exile, said in a letter to Im Soursdey, the chairman of the NEC, that the current election law will not make for credible elections.

The NEC has said it will meet with all all political parties and members of civil society to hear their recommendations after Jan. 24. Tep Nitha, secretary-general of the NEC, said Thursday the committee will not meet with people beforehand.

However, Kem Sokha told VOA Khmer on Wednesday that a separate meeting should be held between opposition and NEC leaders. “We want to have a mutual compromise, to have a free and fair and credible election,” he said.

Opposition leaders want fair election procedures in place before the election, he said. They do not want to protest or dismiss the elections after they are already held, he said.

Kuoy Bunroeun, a lawmaker for the Sam Rainsy Party, said the NEC has continually ignored proposals for improved elections from the opposition. The rules of the elections have not changed, despite criticism in the past, he said.

“That is the status quo, and if the preparation is still the same, the election result will be the same, and nothing will have changed at all,” he said.