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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Voter registration ends, results disputed

Voter registration ends, results disputed

Watchdog groups question unusual number of 'proxy' registrations

and other irregularities

The National Election Committee said this week it will not extend the voter registration

period, although three voter watchdog groups complained about problems with deleting

voters from the lists.

The groups also said there were a "surprisingly high" number of new voters,

raising the possibility of multiple registrations by some voters.

The NEC reported that about 8.6 million Cambodians have registered to vote including

almost 900,000 new voters.

NEC said 664,796 voter names were deleted from the lists and 682,459 eligible voters

failed to register.

The three voter rights watchdog groups issued a joint statement October 26 saying

they had "serious concerns" about the deletion list."

The joint statement was issued by the Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia

(Comfrel); the Neutral and Independent Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC);

and the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).

Voters are supposed to register in person. But the groups said that a "substantial

number of voters were registered by proxy as party agents, commune officials, military

police officers and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces officers took their identity documents

and photographs and registered them as voters in connivance with registration officials."

It cited several locations where that happened in the provinces of Banteay Meancheay

and Steung Treng.

The statement said several voter registration stations did not comply with stipulated

working hours and either opened late or closed early.

They said the high number of new voters registered was "30 % more than originally

estimated by NEC." They raised questions about the possibility of "multiple

registration," and possible underage or non-Cambodian citizens being registered.

The Center for Social Development called for NEC to extend the registration process

by at least one more month in order to accommodate other potential voters to come

to register.

The changes in the list took place between September 15 and October 20 to reflect

deaths, migration and other changes in advance of the national elections in July

2008.

Tep Nytha, secretary general of NEC, said the process has been done according to

the law and NEC will not extend the registration and revision period.

"We were working according to the law and there was also participation from

the local election NGOs and political parties," Nytha said.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, president of the Sam Rainsy Party, in a letter to NEC

on October 23, called for a new meeting to examine the deletion of voter names in

241 commune councils, about 15 percent of the communes nationwide.

"Our party representative found that some of the commune councils did not respect

and implement the guidelines of the NEC and deleted the voter names without relevant

documents and evidence to prove lost voting rights," Rainsy wrote in his letter

to NEC.

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