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Youth vote pushes for direct council election

Hundreds of youth activists have deployed to the provinces to collect signatures for a petition calling for an amendment to the election law that would allow direct elections for district, city and provincial councillors.

The current system sees the Kingdom’s more than 11,000 sitting commune councillors vote for the representatives along party lines and has been frequently criticised by election watchdogs.

The Youth Council of Cambodia (YCC) announced the plan in a statement released yesterday on behalf of a total of six youth associations.

More than 570 activists have been dispatched to 12 provinces and expect to collect up to 30,000 petitions ahead of the May 18 sub-national councillor elections, said Sok Pitour, executive director at the YCC.

“We don’t know the exact number of [signatures] yet, but we plan for 30,000 if there is no interruption from the local authorities,” he said.

“We can predict the result of the upcoming election, and therefore it will be useless and a waste of money, because the election does not represent the will of people.”

Pitour added that the group does not expect the changes to be made ahead of the upcoming election.

The petition will be submitted to both the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, he said.

Sak Kalyann, a youth activist from Kampong Speu, voiced her support for the proposal.

“I want to change from non-universal to universal elections, because all the people and youth would be able to express their right to cast a ballot to elect their representatives,” she said.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the opposition backed direct elections.

“We support universal elections. The amendment of the election for district, city and provincial councilors was amongst our demands for election reform,” he said.

Cheam Yeap, senior lawmaker of the CPP, was more elusive.

“It is the will of a group of people to express [that they want] to have a universal vote for [the] upcoming election. But the CPP will not work against the law.”

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