Election monitoring organizations (EMO) blamed numerous reasons for the lower
than expected voter registration for the upcoming commune elections.
They said that poor organization and a lack of time, resources and
education, had combined with violations of election law and irregularities to
produce lower registration than in previous elections.
According to the
National Election Committee (NEC), 83 percent of the 6 million eligible voters
registered. This represented a 10 percent drop on registration in the 1998
"I don't know how the NEC can be sure that is the number of
people registered," said Kek Galabru, president of Nicfec, an EMO. "It wasn't
fair. The NEC [didn't respect] the right of the people to vote. The one million
eligible voters who weren't allowed to register could have made a difference in
the [final outcome] of the election."
Galabru, who spent two days trying
to register, said that intimidation and a lack of voter education had affected
"It was difficult for some people to find out where they should
register. Others that knew [found that] when they arrived at the station,
officials said there were not enough materials to register everyone," she
Prince Norodom Sirivudh, secretary general of coalition partner
Funcinpec, agreed that a lack of material had prevented some from
"We recognize there were some irregularities in terms of
registration," said Sirivudh.
However, with registration now over, CPP
and Funcinpec are looking towards competing for those votes. Although they share
power, they still plan to compete in the upcoming commune election. Sirivudh
said Funcinpec would try its best to win as many commune positions as
"Cooperation does not mean no competition," said Sirivudh. "Of
course, there are difficulties: how is one in cooperation when one is
Chan Ven (CPP), deputy secretary general of the National
Assembly said his party was ready for the election.
normal in a democracy," said Ven. "The CPP is like a champion boxer: when there
is a title boxing match, he has to practice harder."
Ven said he was glad
of the multitude of political parties, since the competition would force the CPP
to work hard to maintain its existing position.
"The CPP will not be
ignored," said Ven. "We are training the members of the party to be ready for
Sirivudh said Funcinpec had started planning for the
election. He said the party was preparing itself, looking at organization and
strategy as well managing resources and training party members.
However, he would not divulge any details regarding Funcinpec's strategy. He
added that it was most important that the election be well-run and Cambodia
"[Funcinpec wants] competition which is fair, without
violence, based on the democratic process and no crimes or intimidation," said
Sirivudh. "We hope that [competition] does not lead us...to conflict and
There have been several cases of violence linked to the
commune election since 1999: eight members of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party
(SRP) have been killed, said Eng Chhay Eang, secretary general of the SRP. So
have four members of Funcinpec said a source from that party.