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Political Tension, Red Tape, Frustrate Voter Registration: Analyst

  • Men Kimseng
  • VOA Khmer

Ok Serei Sopheak is an independent analyst, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Transparency International Cambodia in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 14, 2016. (Hean Socheata/VOA Khmer)

The National Election Committee said it had only registered 240,000 new voters by September 28.

Political tensions and excessive bureaucracy may be responsible for low voter registration in September, a governance specialist said.

Ok Serei Sopheak, an independent analyst, told the Hello VOA program last week that a combination of bad weather, complex administrative procedures, and concern over rising political tensions in Cambodia had led to only a fraction of the estimated 1.6 million migrant workers register to vote.

The National Election Committee said it had only registered 240,000 new voters by September 28.

This year’s round of voter registration was seen as more restrictive than prior to local elections in 2016, with stricter requirements including residence permits and identity cards.

"It's good for protecting the security of the people in their daily life,” Serei Sopheak said. “But when applying this to the voter registration, I think it makes it hard on the people and the consequence is worrisome which results in a slowdown in registration."

He added that digital identity cards and a new biometric system could help reduce duplicated registrations and speed up the process.

Tensions in Cambodia have been on the rise since the arrest of opposition leader Kem Sokha in early September.

"Such a tense political situation makes people uncertain, not knowing whether there will be an election or not,” Serei Sopheak said. “This has left an uncertainty if the main opposition CNRP can participate in the election."

The official registration period for next July’s general election closes on November 9.

Serei Sopheak said while the political tensions may ease ahead of the vote, the credibility of the election would be in question.

"How can this election be recognized by the national and international community? This is my deepest concern."

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