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Election monitors seek to reform registration

BETTER voter registration and the timely resolution of election-related complaints were at the top of the agenda during a two-day seminar on elections that ended Wednesday with organisers calling for reforms.

Hang Puthea, executive director of the Cambodian election monitor Nicfec, said it was crucial to streamline voter registration, which is now overly complicated and prevents some eligible Cambodians from casting ballots.

Registration became a central issue in the lead-up to last year's general election, after which monitors and opposition politicians claimed that hundreds of thousands of people were prevented from voting because they could not find their names on voter rolls.

Election complaints - mediated by the National Election Committee [NEC] - were often resolved unfairly, if at all, Hang Puthea said.

"We want to have reforms on registration and complaint resolution," he said following the seminar, which was held by Nicfec, another election-monitor, Comfrel, and the US-based National Democratic Institute.

"We want a means for [complaint] resolutions to be accepted by all parties," he added.

Comfrel Executive Director Koul Panha urged the Interior Ministry to create a national voter ID card rather than leave it to local governments to handle registration.

"We want the ministry to issue cards for 100 percent of voters," he said.

Tep Nytha, secretary general of the NEC, said Wednesday that he would not comment on the seminar, saying that the discussions centred on changing existing election laws.

"We operate based on the existing laws," he said.

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