Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Council elections will lack democracy: NGOs

Council elections will lack democracy: NGOs

Council elections will lack democracy: NGOs

The National Election Committee yesterday announced a date for the election of district and city-provincial council members, a vote that will only be open to current commune council members.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha took the opportunity yesterday to outline the polling procedures for the May 18, 2014, vote, but observers dismissed the election as undemocratic, maintaining it violated the spirit of representative democracy, and was furthermore a waste of time given that the voting pool entirely comprises of people already affiliated with a party.

There are more than 300 city-provincial council members and 2,800 district council members in the current first mandate, said Nytha, but a precise number for the second mandate has not yet been set.

However, Koul Panha, executive director of the election monitor Comfrel, said restricting a vote to elected officials only works in societies in which the general population votes for specific candidates – in whom they place their trust – rather than simply voting for parties, as they do in Cambodia.

“[Other countries] use non-universal election systems too, but the voting is for individuals,” he said. “This means that [voters] are content with someone they vote for, even though that [person] is in a party. But when we use a non-universal system, and vote using the proportional system and vote for a party, it is meaningless.”

Cambodian Center for Human Rights president Ou Virak maintained that in a strict party system like Cambodia’s commune council members will simply stick to party lines, making the actual poll pointless.

“I think it’s a waste of time and money,” he said. “You have parties voting for parties, basically, so if you do basic math, you can see how many parties will have how many seats.

“Unless there’s vote buying,” Virak added. “You have less numbers to buy than in the general population.”

Yem Ponharith, a spokesman for the Cambodia National Rescue Party, said his party was preferring to focus on the still-disputed national election.

Cambodian People’s Party official Ork Kimhan declined to comment on observers’ criticisms of the vote’s structure.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,