In the lead-up to the commune council elections scheduled for June 5, political parties have been preparing to register their parties and candidates by early March for the 5th mandate elections once the official validation of the 2021 voter list is announced on February 12.
National Election Committee (NEC) spokesman Som Sorida told The Post on January 31 that in order to be eligible to enter the commune elections, they have to register under the Law on Political Parties at the Ministry of Interior.
He said that legally registered parties have to apply for party registration and name of their candidates to the commune electoral commissions, starting on the 4th and ending on the 6th of March after the validation of the voter lists are officially announced.
He added that more than 40 registered parties have the right to contest the elections in all 1,652 communes across the country. However, parties that have not registered or field their candidates with the commissions are not eligible to enter the elections.
He continued that the parties that have registered their candidates have the right to send their agents to observe the election process, such as the registration of parties, counting of ballots and announcement of election results at each location or polling station.
“Their rights are in accordance with the Law on Commune Council Elections, including sending agents to observe all the processes. [We] do not require candidates to pay to register to vote and there are candidates who have registered in all 1,652 communes across the country,” Sorida noted.
Sok Eysan, spokesman of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), told The Post on January 31 that from March 4-6 the NEC will begin accepting applications for party registration and candidates, so all parties are now prepared to apply and compete.
He added that the CPP had held its national congress, but the fielding of candidates must go through another stage from the top level. After it is decided formally, the party will go through the administrative formalities with the NEC for recognition.
“Now we do not know how many men and women or how many old and how many young people will run for the CPP, but we’ve already made plans. When the time comes, we will introduce them,” he said.
Eysan added that the CPP will field candidates to stand for the election in all 1652 communes, but he did not want to guess how many seats his party might win.
Cambodia Reform Party (CRP) founder Ou Chanrath, formerly a lawmaker from the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), told The Post that the CRP was also preparing candidates for the commune elections, but he did not expect that enough candidates will be fielded across the country to make a big impact as time is running short and due to Covid-19.
“We will sum up before applying to NEC in March. We do not expect to field a lot of candidates this time. We know that all the small parties cannot field a lot of candidates, may be 300 communes will be contested,” he said.
Sam Sokuntheamy, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, told The Post that his organisation had no plans to observe applications or party registrations but would monitor the election campaigns and the polls.
He added that there were more than 40 parties registered with the interior ministry. But not all of the parties would enter the commune elections because that depends on human resources, budgets and outside political pressures.
“There are also issues concerning the political situation and restrictions. Some parties will not field candidates to stand for the elections and some will enter but only in a few communes or provinces. It depends somewhat on human resources, budgets and restrictions,” he said.