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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NEC trumpets 93 percent registration

NEC trumpets 93 percent registration

NEC trumpets 93 percent registration

nec.jpg
nec.jpg

Monks try to register for the election in Phnom Penh: Across the country many were refused permission.

Preliminary figures released by the National Election Committee (NEC) show that 6.2

million people are registered to vote in the general election. The registration rate

is 93.08 percent, slightly below the NEC's target of 95 percent.

NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha thanked government ministries and NGOs for their

help in ensuring that the registration process, which concluded on February 20, went

off smoothly.

"Now that we have finished our work on the registration process, it is time

to declare the voting list available for people to examine," said Nytha. Those

whose names do not appear on the list, he added, have until April 27 to file a complaint

with the NEC.

The electoral body admitted to some problems in the process. One was about officials

in some communes who had shut their registration stations during work hours. Another

was that some potential voters were barred from registering due to overly strict

interpretations of identity documents.

Of the 157 complaints filed during the one month registration process, said Nytha,

the NEC had resolved 151. The six outstanding complaints would be resolved through

public hearings.

Despite the high registration rate, the process was found wanting by the Cambodian

Center for Human Rights (CCHR) which is monitoring events. It said it was "extremely

concerned" at numerous instances of illegal restrictions its monitors found

when assessing the registration process.

CCHR visited more than 400 registration centers, and released its report after the

registration period closed on February 20. It noted 77 violations including fraud,

intimidation, administration irregularities, and officials preventing monks from

registering.

In addition there were 54 cases of violence and intimidation against members of political

parties, including eight killings. CCHR stated that violence and irregularities had

again combined with impunity to produce a pattern characteristic of previous elections.

"If the competent authorities do not take responsibility for addressing and

ending this trend, then elections cannot be free and fair," the organization

noted. "And without free and fair elections there is little prospect for democratic

development."

CCHR was established in October 2002 by former Funcinpec senator Kem Sokha. CCHR's

deputy director, Pa Ngoun Tean, said the 39 irregularities in administration that

the NGO had uncovered were a serious concern.

"[Administration] is most important in facilitating people to register,"

he said. "According to our monitors ... the different authorities did not have

a strong will to facilitate voter registration."

He also highlighted as a key concern the violence directed at political parties.

"Violent actions have increased," he said. "In every election period

in Cambodia we have seen an increase in violence against members of political parties.

The violence affects people ... the NEC has to cooperate with the security forces."

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