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No traction for NEC revamp

The Ministry of Interior has rejected a request from the opposition party to change the composition of the National Election Committee, citing obstacles for the upcoming national election process and the possibility of political instability.

Prom Sokha, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, told reporters that the request of members from the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties was not feasible.

Their argument is that the NEC should draw members from representative political and civil society groups. But Sokha, in his explanation of the decision, said the outcome would result in infighting.

“I said that if we do it like this, there will be a deadlock of the NEC establishment,” said Sokha, adding that it would then interfere with the election process.

The NEC has nine appointed members who are supposed to be independent arbiters of the elections. But many critics of the committee believe it leans in favour of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

In response to the ministry’s decision, opposition party members held a press conference at Sam Rainsy Party headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Party spokesman Yim Sovann said the plan was meant to ensure independence and neutrality by having members of the opposition and ruling parties co-operatively appoint members to the NEC.

“We would open it for everyone,” he said.

Election monitoring and human rights groups issued a joint statement yesterday, agreeing that while the NEC is an “independent body” in principle, its composition must be “neutral from the royal government and political parties”.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Sokchea at sokchea.meas@phnompenhpost.com

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