Opposition parties voiced complaints to the National Election Committee yesterday accusing commune authorities across Cambodia of harassment and bias during voter registration drives.
During an NEC meeting attended by representatives from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, the Human Rights Party, Funcinpec and other political parties, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Ho Vann said SRP members were being harassed by commune authorities when they distributed leaflets encouraging people to register to vote.
“We want to have more registration. I would like the NEC to make it clear whether distribution of leaflets or use of microphones to spread the word of voter registration is forbidden or not,” Ho Vann said at the meeting.
NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha said parties must not use the voter registrat-ion period as an election campaign and could only distribute information in accordance with the law.
“Political parties can distribute leaflets and use microphones if they have permission from local authorities,” he said. “Distributing leaflets affects public order: that is why it is prohibited.
“Every political party can have a meeting in its party office or a private home with agreement from the home owner without asking permission from the authorities.”
Responding to queries on whether the NEC had the capacity to inform citizens about voter registration, Tep Nytha said the NEC was publicising information for voters. “I don’t say it is enough, I just say it is wide,” he said. “Some still say it is not enough.”
Opposition parties also voiced accusations of interference in the voter registration process by the ruling party. Ouk Suy, an HRP official, claimed the CPP had set up a voter registry at a Kampong Chamlong commune party office in Svay Rieng province’s Svay Chrum district. “We would like to ask the NEC to take legal action,” Ouk Suy said.
The NEC stated that a voter registry had not been set up in the party office, but at a commune office next door.
The SRP also claimed that CPP officials had attempted to pay an SRP member US$1,500 to vote for a CPP candidate in upcoming council elections for Phnom Penh’s new Po Senchey district in December.
“I decline to give his name to avoid endangering him,” Hing Sokhom, an SRP member in the municipal council, said, adding that the SRP member had not accepted the money.
CPP lawmaker Chheang Von said the party was not interested in claims that officials had harassed SRP members.
“The SRP always says the same,” he said, denying allegations that the CPP had set up a voter registry in a commune party office.