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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NEC makes few friends

NEC makes few friends

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections (Comfrel) criticized the National Election

Committee (NEC) January 17 for the fact that it has not set up a system to allow

political parties to broadcast their programs on national television or radio during

the election campaign.

"We are concerned that the NEC has not made any preparations that will allow

political parties access to the media system," said Panha Koul, executive director

of Comfrel.

Panha said he regretted that the NEC had thus far not decided to help the political

parties gain access to TV and radio. The NEC had only offered a 70 minute slot on

TVK, the national channel, for each political party registered for the election.

"We have also noted that all the private television and radio stations are hesitant

to accept the program for voter education as requested by the political parties and

NGOs," he said.

Panha's comments came after Comfrel released a report from the organization's media

monitoring unit, which analyzed media coverage between January 4 to 15. The report

found the CPP gained far and away the majority of TV and radio's political coverage.

A summary listing the report's findings stated that in all media combined, the activities

of the CPP, including those of Prime Minister Hun Sen, garnered 85 percent of total

political news coverage.

"I think that each political party will find it faces difficulties in accessing

broadcast media," he said. "The election campaign will not be fair unless

all political parties can access the media."

CPP registered 90 percent of coverage, Funcinpec around 10 percent, and the SRP an

insignificant share. Comfrel warned that there was only a limited amount of time

left for other political parties to access the media in time for the commune elections.

Panha said Comfrel would continue its efforts to provide voter education, but warned

that time for that was limited. The body also said that instances of political intimidation

and threats were continuing and in fact had become more frequent.

"Comfrel is concerned over the steady increase in the number of acts of violence

and security matter including threats affecting the feelings of voters, intimidation

and killing [of] commune candidates and party activists," the press release

stated.

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