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Party pair object to election changes

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Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) president Yeng Virak​ in a video address on the 6th anniversary of his party’s establishment in August. GDP

Party pair object to election changes

The Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) and Kampucheaniyum Party (KP) demand that the National Election Committee (NEC) fall back on the utilisation of the election rules and procedures that were in force prior to recent changes for this year’s 5th mandate commune council elections scheduled for June 5.

However, a NEC spokesman said the new draft rules and procedures had already been widely discussed before they were approved.

In a joint statement dated December 30, the two political parties demanded that NEC consider keeping Article 5.3.1.5 from the rules and procedures for the commune council elections which states that a record of the ballot count has to be distributed to participating political party agents at each voting station.

They also asked NEC to retain some other clauses and rules that have now been phased out.

The statement said they expected that NEC will accept their demands in order to demonstrate its efforts to ensure free and fair elections in line with the principles of multi-party democracy, which would help them to gain the trust of the minority political parties and the voting public to avoid future political stalemates and deadlocks.

GDP spokesperson Loek Sothea told The Post on January 3 that the parties want the rules to be maintained because the previous NEC rules and procedures for counting stated that the results of the election were to be provided to the agents of the participating political parties at each voting station should any be present and acting as observers.

The preliminary results are then posted in front of the polling stations and the ballots are counted until official election results are announced.

However, the new draft regulations and procedures that the NEC is currently working on will eliminate these oversight requirements, raising concerns among some political parties.

“The political parties demand that NEC leave these contents unchanged and if it refuses to retain them, then we will ... mobilise other political parties with the same concerns and possibly mobilise some civil society organisations and embassies with previous experience working on Cambodian elections,” he said.

NEC spokesman Som Sorida told The Post on January 3 that these two parties were worried about not getting the results of the election locally at the ballot counting stations. But he noted that technically, all political parties’ agents who observe the election and the counting of the ballots will get the election results in the NEC’s form 1102.

He elaborated that based on the parliamentary election law, the NEC’s form 1102 requires polling stations to make three copies of their election results, the first of which must be included in package “A” and then submitted to the NEC. The second copy “B” must be posted at the stations where the ballots are being counted and the third copy “C” will be sent to the commune election commissions.

“The results must also be posted at the polling station and counted. Political party agents can simply capture them with smartphones. Or if they’d prefer, the political party agents can get the results at the local communes,” he added.

Sorida reiterated that mobilising donor countries to put pressure on the NEC to keep the election rules unchanged from 2017’s was pointless and irrelevant.

The new rules and procedures for the commune council elections had been submitted by the NEC to all relevant parties for review and input before making their final decision. Thus far, he said only these two parties have requested that the NEC keep the old rules, while an overwhelming majority of parties had agreed to the NEC’s suggestions.

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