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Japan has tips for NEC

Members of the public search voter registration lists at a school in Phnom Penh during the national election in 2013.
Members of the public search voter registration lists at a school in Phnom Penh during the national election in 2013. Hong Menea

Japan has tips for NEC

After a meeting with National Election Committee (NEC) officials yesterday, Japanese officials said they are prepared to assist Cambodia in completing and implementing new election legislation.

Following a session at the NEC’s headquarters in Phnom Penh, Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Yuji Kumamaru said that there are a few areas in which they will likely provide support.

Aspects of the draft NEC law where Kumamaru said Japan can help include voter registration, providing advice for the law’s design and supporting efforts to educate Cambodian citizens about the law. But with the draft language nearly complete and the NEC already taking advice from others, Kumamaru said he is not sure how much Japan can provide aid in this area.

“According to the information we received from the NEC, they will finish drafting the legislation after consulting with [Cambodian] government officials and NGOs,” Kumamaru said yesterday. “So we are not sure how much consulting we will be able to do.”

While Japan has offered its advice on the legislation in addition to implementation support, the NEC is the body that will ultimately decide what is in the election law, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said yesterday.

Election Committee officials are willing to consider suggestions from other countries, but the draft is about 80 per cent complete, and will be largely handled internally, Puthea said.

“The NEC is open to recommendations on the draft law,” Puthea said. “But the NEC is an independent body; it will consider those recommendations, but will not necessarily enact all of them.”

A day before the NEC’s meeting with Japanese officials, a delegation from the European Union told the committee that the EU would assign experts to go over the draft legislation upon completion.

“It is important that the NEC creates a special taskforce to work with the EU and the government of Japan to see where we can help in advising them regarding techniques,” spokesman Silvio Gonzato said on Wednesday.

However, Gonzato added, the NEC has been slow to show the draft.

Puthea said the NEC has a master plan, but must meet with several stakeholders before presenting the draft and receiving suggestions from outside influences.

“We have a commission for these tasks, but it requires debate on which areas donors can help,” Puthea said.

“Thus far, we have not determined this.”

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