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Parties Complain of Unfair Voter Registration

A Cambodian Buddhist monk casts his ballot, file photo.
A Cambodian Buddhist monk casts his ballot, file photo.

With the end of voter registration for commune council elections next year just 10 days away, political parties and election observers say the registries are still in disarray.

Some of the lists have the same name twice, while some retain “ghost” names of inexistent people, these observers say. Meanwhile, sever flooding has hampered voters in about 300 communes.

Commune council elections are slated for June 3, 2012.

“Right now, we’ve shown that there are many difficulties, but when we want to educate voters we’re blocked by local authorities who say that this is not the season for electoral campaigning,” said Kouy Bunroen, a lawmaker for the main opposition Sam Rainsy Party who is in charge of election coordination.

Kem Sokha, president of the minor opposition Human Rights Party, said the new voter registration forms, which require two different photographs, require the assistance of local commune officials. Since many of those are ruling Cambodian People’s Party members, they are able to stifle the efforts of those who support the opposition parties.

In Kampot province, he said, they have found evidence that ruling party members have helped people under the legal voting age of 18 register.

Cheam Yiep, a CPP lawmaker, said these allegations always surface during elections, but they are without evidence.

“The ruling party follows [National Election Committee] laws, so we never have a problem,” he said.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said there were 52,000 new registrants as of Sept. 30, with the number likely to increase as the deadline draws near.

The committee has only received two official complaints of irregularities, which were settled at the commune level, he said.

Meanwhile, flooded communes remain a problem, with hundreds of communes affected. Sok Pitour, a monitoring coordinator for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said people may have lost their documents in the flooding. He advised an extension of 10 more days for those areas.

Tep Nitha said the election committee was considering such an extension.