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Observers approved for poll

The National Election Committee has approved more than 800 observers from political parties and civil society to monitor the nearly 200 polling stations to be set up for the May 18 district, provincial and municipal council elections, the election body said on Monday.

According to an NEC statement, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party will send 198 official observers and 198 reserve observers, while the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party will send 195 and 196 official and reserve observers, respectively.

The remaining three smaller parties, which claim a relatively insignificant share of commune councillors – the only voters in the non-universal poll – will send a total of 56 official and reserve observers, with four small NGOs providing an additional 159.

NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha said yesterday that 11,459 commune councillors – with 2,955 coming from the CNRP and almost 8,300 coming from the CPP – will line up to cast their votes, and that the NEC “expects the election will go smoothly and successfully”.

Commune councillors will fill out two separate ballots, he said, one for the district council in their home district, and another for their home province and municipality councils, with polling stations releasing preliminary results the same day and official results coming on May 30.

“The general atmosphere of the election campaign was peaceful and nonviolent, and we expect 100 per cent turnout,” Nytha said.

Koul Panha, executive director of the election watchdog Comfrel, said that his organisation would not monitor the polls since they were open only to sitting party representatives, and noted that despite unsubstantiated rumours of the CPP attempting to buy CNRP votes, both parties have “strong strategies to keep voters along party lines”.



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