The National Election Committee (NEC) met with stakeholders yesterday to discuss preparations for the upcoming national elections in July, fielding recommendations from political parties and NGOs to avoid issues that surfaced in 2013.
The elections are under scrutiny following the controversial dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which won more than 44 percent of the vote in 2013 and was expected to mount a strong challenge to the Cambodian People’s Party.
Sik Bun Hok, NEC chairman, said yesterday that CNRP supporters should vote for one of the remaining choices among a hodge-podge of smaller parties with little previous support.
“They will regret losing the chance that they have [to vote] . . . I think they should not let this chance go, even if they love the party, just vote for another party if there is no CNRP,” he said.
Other participants, meanwhile, suggested for minor tweaks to procedure. Yoeurng Sotheara, legal expert for election watchdog Comfrel, recommended ballots be marked with stamps instead of pens to reduce errors.
Sam Kuntheamy, of election monitor Nicfec, requested a reduction in the number of reserve ballots to prevent the possibility of extra votes being cast, while recommending improvements on announcing results.
“I asked NEC to inform the public clearly about the mechanisms of announcing the primary result of the election,” Kuntheamy said, noting that in 2013 the vote count abruptly cut to another program before returning to announce the results.
A representative from Japan, which still contributes funding to the NEC, recommended that polling stations provide more educational documents so voters better understand the process.
Hang Puthea, NEC spokesman, said the recommendations will be reviewed, with a decision expected in two weeks, though any changes would have to be in line with Cambodian law.