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Time Again To Think About Elections, Democracy: Advocate

With local elections on the not-too-distant horizon, a democracy advocate said Thursday Cambodians must now start thinking about political parties specifically and the functions of democracy generally.

“Voters must remember that we are the owners of power,” said Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, as a guest of “Hello VOA.” “So those who own the power must actively work, not just think that we are the owners of power, than abandon our obligations, our duties. We all have to participate.”

Elections for commune leaders are slated for 2012, with parliamentary elections to follow the year after. But there are already issues the electorate must be thinking about, Koul Panha said.

That includes maximizing the inclusion of opposition candidates, media equity programs and more transparency, especially in funding, he said. Campaigning and voting systems also need improved, he said.

Comfrel, which was an election monitor until 1998, how works to educate voters on democracy issues, he said.

“We let the people and the political parties observe for themselves whether it’s free and fair,” he said. “For us, we just try to highlight irregularities.”