A coalition of Cambodia's sole elected opposition party and two hopefuls has threatened
demonstrations if the government does not re-organize the National Election Committee
(NEC) to ensure free and fair elections.
The three parties - the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), Prince Norodom Chakrapong's Khmer
Soul Party, and Pen Sovann's Cambodian National Sustaining Party - criticized the
selection process for the five NEC nominees whose names were announced September
The leaders said the five were not independent, and called their selection an attempt
to thwart international efforts at a transparent election process.
"We speak with one voice to push for elections that will reflect the will of
the Cambodian people and convince the donor countries to put pressure on the [Cambodian
People's Party] to hold fair elections," said Sam Rainsy. "Cambodia is
headed for trouble and instability because people will lose faith and hope in democracy."
The nominees for the new board were picked by the Ministry of Interior (MoI). Three
are linked to the ruling CPP and two to the royalist Funcinpec party. The CPP/Funcinpec-dominated
National Assembly will consider the nominees when it meets later this year. They
are likely to be approved by a wide margin.
The opposition grouping warned it would not accept the list as it stands. Calling
for a solution that is "acceptable to all parties", its proposal, which
is considered highly unlikely to succeed, was for an NEC composed of one member from
each major party, and two from non-partisan NGOs.
Those considered by the opposition parties as CPP-aligned are: Im Suosdey, secretary-general
of the current NEC; Mean Sati, former chief of the Battam-bang provincial election
commission; and Koy Vet, executive director of the NGO Khmer Women's Voice Center.
Those nominees supported by Funcinpec are Nge Chhay Lieng, deputy chief of cabinet
at the MoI, and Dr Sin Chum Bo, a NGO consultant with joint US-Cambodian.
The opposition grouping also condemned the MoI for ignoring the opinions of both
them and citizens' groups during the nomination process.
The Election Law, amendments to which were passed by the National Assembly last month,
states that the NEC must act as a neutral and independent coordinator. As part of
that, all board members must resign from any political party before they can be approved.
The CPP maintains that the NEC is legitimate. Ho Naun, a CPP MP and central committee
member, said the reformed body would "guarantee independence, neutrality, and
free and fair elections". Others in the National Assembly felt that was disingenuous.
"I think the Ministry of Interior has to reconsider their nominations of the
new NEC," said Funcinpec's Nan Sy. "I am keeping to my view that since
the debate [last month] at the National Assembly, the reform of the NEC is not free
ï Election monitors Nicfec and Comfrel strongly condemned the killings and intimidation
of political activists over the last six months.
In a joint statement on September 23 they demanded urgent investigations into the
cases, and effective measures to protect political activists ahead of the general
election. Those most at risk, they said, were newly appointed opposition activists
at the commune level.