A total of 6.34 million Cambodians are registered to cast their votes in the July
27 general election. The National Election Committee (NEC) issued its final voters
list on April 27 showing that just under 94 percent of the eligible population has
The chairman of the NEC, Im Suosdey, told a gathering of Provincial Election Committee
officials at the Ministry of Interior that the exercise had proved successful.
"The number of voters this year has increased when compared to 2002," he
told the officials at the end of a three-day training session. "The achievement
of a voter registration close to 94 percent is attributable to hard work from all
Suosdey said the figure was commendable, despite the fact that it was slightly below
the rate of 98 percent attained in 1998. He pointed out that it was better than the
February 2002 commune elections when 83 percent signed up.
Although the NEC expressed its satisfaction with the list, the US-based International
Republican Institute (IRI) said it was concerned the body had ruled against numerous
complaints of violations of the electoral law.
Among the examples it gave were that people below the legal voting age of 18 were
allowed to register, non-citizens had registered, and commune clerks had applied
the registration requirements inconsistently.
The IRI conducted a series of pre-election assessments between April 23 and 28 in
the capital and seven provinces. It expressed fears that widespread intimidation
at the local level had already begun. That coincided with concerns voiced by several
political parties and human rights groups that intimidation and vote buying - common
occurrences in previous elections - have started.
"Voters have received threats from village chiefs and local authorities that
retaining their jobs or their land is linked to their support for [the ruling Cambodian
People's Party]," the IRI wrote.
The election monitor called on the government and the NEC to alleviate fears about
both the political environment and the administration of the election in the two
months that remain before campaigning begins on June 26. It stated that recent high-profile
assassinations, murders, attempted murders and serious assaults would undermine political
participation at all levels.
Koul Panha, the executive director of Comfrel, an election monitoring NGO, said his
organization would audit the official voters list to ensure it was acceptable to
all stakeholders. The four-week process will begin at the end of this month, when
Comfrel receives the official list from the NEC.
"At the moment we have no comment to make about whether the voters list is transparent
or not," he said. "But if the audit finds the list is substantially different
[from reality], then the upcoming election will suffer."
Panha said Comfrel was ready to send 400 statistics experts to communes where there
were suspicions that irregularities had taken place. He added that agents of political
parties had complained of 94 cases in which around 10,000 people were unable to register.
All of those complaints were rejected by the NEC.
ï Yet another opposition legislator has left the party for Funcinpec. Sam Sundoeun,
who was the Sam Rainsy Party's MP for Kandal province, told the media on May 7 that
the SRP was undemocratic.
The opposition leader shrugged of the latest in a series of tit-for-tat defections,
saying Sundoeun was unhappy that he had not garnered the candidacy he wanted.
Breakdown of potential and registered
voters by province and municipality for 2003 election
Source: NEC, 27 April 2003.