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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - 2,500 registrants suspect: CNRP

People sit on a bench at voter registration office in Phnom Penh at the beginning of September.
People sit on a bench at voter registration office in Phnom Penh at the beginning of September. Hong Menea

2,500 registrants suspect: CNRP

The Cambodia National Rescue Party suspects almost 2,500 foreigners – most of them Vietnamese – of having illegally registered to vote during the current registration drive, an official said yesterday.

CNRP election affairs head Meng Sopheary said the party’s observers had recorded 2,459 people who did not speak Khmer fluently or had been identified as outsiders by locals, adding that the party would lodge a complaint first with individual district authorities and then with the National Election Committee if they were unsatisfied with the results.

“The observers noticed that they are not Khmer. They are foreigners. Mostly they are Vietnamese,” Sopheary said. “In Phnom Penh and Svay Rieng, the number was the highest. In Phnom Penh, there are more than 1,000 people. And in Svay Rieng, it is close to 1,000 people.”

Only Cambodian citizens can register to vote. However, as many ethnic Vietnamese have lived in Cambodia for generations, often without proper documentation, the sensitivity surrounding citizenship and nationality has plagued elections, with the opposition often accused of using the issue to mobilise supporters.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea was not available yesterday, though the official has previously vowed the body would pursue all complaints.

Director of election watchdog Comfrel Koul Panha said a lack of language skills did not disqualify someone with the correct documents from voting, but called for more scrutiny.

“[Language] is just part of the elements. We cannot conclude immediately, one needs to examine more in-depth. We cannot only take the [language] and only the name [into consideration].”

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