The incumbent Cambodian People's Party (CPP) has hailed the National Election Committee's
now-completed registration process for the commune council election as a great success.
But the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, and smaller parties such as Prince Sisowath
Thomico's Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party (SJFP), have made heated public allegations
of intimidation, manipulation and fraud.
Now, after monitoring the process, a longtime election watchdog is saying both camps
Koul Panha of the election monitoring NGO Committee for Free and Fair Election (Comfrel)
reported that the registration process did go "smoothly," but there were
incidences of intimidation, threats, vote buying and administrative harassment aimed
at preventing candidates from smaller political parties being registered.
Muth Channtha, spokesman for the fledgling Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) said the
Provincial Election Committee (PEC) and Commune Election Committee (CEC) did not
respect the working times and had not followed the rules laid out the NEC.
"There were many technical problems with the registration process, because of
the PEC and CEC demanded more documents for candidates registration than the requirement
of the NEC," Channtha said.
Tep Nytha, secretary-general of NEC, said the official list of the party's candidates
will be announced on March 14-15.
"Our investigation found that some of the political parties have tried to turn
personal family issues into political motivation," Nytha said. "I think
the political environment of the election process in general has improved from last
year, and all political parties had access to information about the election process."
He said more than 100,000 candidates were registered for the commune council election,
compared with only 75,000 in 2002. Female candidates increased to 20 percent of the
total, a climb from 16 percent in the last election. For the 1,621 communes across
the country, the CPP fielded 1,620 candidates, the SRP 1,587, the NRP 1,417 candidates,
and Funcinpec, 1,407.
The process was marked by accusations from the SRP, NRP and the SJFP that the ruling
CPP had set up a network of administrative harassment to prevent the registration
of their candidates.
The SRP also accused local CPP authorities of using intimidation, threats, and vote
"We call on donor countries and all international organizations involved in
the development of Cambodia to put pressure on the government and National Election
Committee (NEC) to put an end such threats," SRP wrote on January 3.
The NEC is spending $13 million to organize commune council elections and roughly
half the budget was from donor countries. The SRP alleged that numerous cases of
vicious intimidation occurred in remote communes in Preah Vihear, Pursat, Koh Kong
and Mondulkiri provinces.
Thomico, president of the SJFP, said at a December 30 press conference that the elections
will not be free and fair because the CPP has put pressure on the opposition parties
at every stage of the election process.
"I believe the CPP would not be so strong if the ruling party played fair and
free and was transparent in the election process," Thomico said.
In a January 5 radio broadcast, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned political parties not
to threaten the nation's stability.
He said the CPP would not be "stupid" enough to make threats against other
political parties to get votes. Hun Sen said all parties should adhere to the rules
of democracy and take over power only with the support of the voters.
"Even if there are [more political parties] the election must be judged by votes;
there cannot be intimidation or violence to gain votes," Hun Sen said. "The
CPP will not commit bad deeds to get the votes."
And CPP chairman Chea Sim appealed to thousands of party members at the group's Phnom
Penh headquarters not to use violence either before or after the commune council
"I would like to appeal to compatriots all over the country to adopt the attitude
of restraint, nonviolence, mutual understanding and a spirit of solidarity; I would
especially encourage all our compatriots to go to vote on April 1, 2007," said
Sim, who is also the president of Senate, in his speech at the CPP celebration of
the 28th anniversary of the fall of Khmer Rouge.