The National Election Committee (NEC) said it welcomes all political parties wishing to meet with their representatives to discuss issues related to irregularities during the recent commune council elections in order to improve the situation for the 2023 national election.

NEC spokesman Som Sorida told The Post on June 9 that the NEC always encourages the participation of all stakeholders, especially political parties contesting the elections.

“When there are requests to meet with NEC to discuss the challenges those political parties encountered or discovered, we are more than willing to meet to find solutions for improvement in the lead-up to the 2023 election. That is what the NEC wants,” he said.

Sorida said the NEC is set to hold a meeting early next month to summarise the outcome of the commune elections.

There will then be an opportunity for political parties that participated in the elections to comment on the challenges they had encountered.

The Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) on June 8 announced a gathering of likeminded parties to meet soon to share and summarise their experiences and problems they had encountered in the commune election process to identify common problems and find solutions.

The GDP states that this initiative is another example of joint advocacy with the NEC and the government on improving the electoral system and political freedoms in Cambodia.

Candlelight Party’s vice-president Thach Setha told The Post on June 9 that his party is collecting documents related to election irregularities but had not yet discussed the GDP’s proposal. Currently, his party is working on verifying the results of the commune elections.

However, he said Candlelight may also join any parties in the same position to come together and discuss the situation with the NEC to address the irregularities that the parties found during the recent commune elections because his party also plays a role as an important representative of the people.

“NEC needs to accept the facts of what had happened in the elections and must correct some of these issues. Not only that, the NEC’s leadership capability also needs to be adjusted to make the elections fair. We see that NEC only modified the technical aspects, but the composition remains the same,” he said.

Ou Chanrath, founder of the Cambodia Reform Party, told The Post on June 9 that his party needs to talk within the party first about the irregularities.

However, he said his party may also join others in advocating change at the NEC.

“If NEC is really open and accepting of feedback, it will be good for them to hold the next mandate elections. But what is important for the NEC at this time is that I see that the leadership are all from one political party,” he said.

Yang Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace who participated as an election observer, said he supported the gathering of political parties to determine common recommendations on the irregularities found in the commune council elections.

“I think it is good if the political parties are united. If there is a problem and an obstacle in the election process, vote counting or during the election campaign then there must be a solution. If all of these problems are solved, the election’s organization would be much more be trusted,” he told The Post.

Sok Eysan, spokesman of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said on June 9 that any political party protesting the results should prepare their complaints and submit them to an election station if they witnessed any irregularities, but now the deadline for complaints had passed.

He said it may not be effective for political parties to meet the NEC if they don’t have clear evidence and more than just speculation.

“They accuse the NEC of being biased in favour of the ruling party. Where is that bias? NEC follows the law and was formed by the law as well. If they can’t accept their defeat, we don’t know what to do,” he said.