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Pung Chhiv Kek, president of local rights group Licadho, has officially turned down a position as the ninth member of the reformed National Election Committee.
In a statement released this morning, Chhiv Kek, who was offered the role in July, says that “although it was a great honor to have been chosen for this very important position, I deeply regret I have to decline the offer”.
“I apologize to my fellow compatriots who had faith in me and whom I may have disappointed,” she adds.
Chhiv Kek conditionally accepted the position last year on the basis that she would “enjoy immunity and full autonomy and independence in decision making and other activities.”
In today’s statement she says the role was described to her as “an independent member [who] will bring to this institution the neutrality it needs to organize elections in conformity with the Constitution and the national laws”.
“Today, I conclude that this task has become impossible,” she writes.
The Cambodian People’s Party and Cambodia National Rescue Party, who will each independently choose four members for the NEC, will now have to agree on a new neutral candidate to fill the ninth position.