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Watchdog demands fair monitoring

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia has called for immediate changes to the selection process and composition of election commissions ahead of upcoming elections in 2012, which they said allowed arbitrary government influence.

A statement released by COMFREL yesterday called for sweeping reform across all levels of the selective procedure for the National Election Committee in order, “to have at least one member from each political party which has a seat in the National Assembly.”

“In Cambodia, the state’s institutions, particularly the Electoral Management Body, is not independent and neutral even though there is existing law to ensure that they are,” an unofficial translation of the statement read.  

In recent elections NEC members have been selected by the government’s Ministry of Interior, and are then approved by the ruling party dominated National Assembly.

Opposition parties have criticised this process as allowing the government to orchestrate elections.

The COMFREL statement yesterday said the selection of the national election body  must be decided by a new transparent and independent selective commission.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman, Yim Sovann, expressed concern yesterday about the current make-up of election commissions.

“The CPP is the player and the referee,” he said.

“If we don’t change the composition of the NEC, I don’t think the election [2012 elections] will be organised freely or fairly.”

But Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, denied yesterday there was a need for all out reform but said participating members of election commissions needed to stringently follow laws and regulations.

“I don’t see the system as flawed, everyone needs to work together to improve its effectiveness. It doesn’t matter who belongs to whose party, they all have to carry out what the law says,” he said.

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