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Election watchdogs slam ‘secret’ draft law

Election watchdogs slam ‘secret’ draft law

The Electoral Reform Alliance has slammed Cambodia’s opposition and ruling parties for their secrecey surrounding a new draft law concerning the country’s National Election Committee.

The umbrella organisation of election watchdogs said yesterday that it submitted its own draft version of the law to the parties on September 29 but had not received any reply. Constitutional amendments were passed last week to enshrine the newly independent NEC, but detailed provisions within the upcoming NEC law are seen as extremely important to ensuring free and fair elections.

“We need access to the electoral reforms being made by the two parties, because we want to ensure the transparency and neutrality of the NEC,” Sin Titseiha, a monitoring and advocacy officer at the Committee for Free and Fair Elections. said at a briefing yesterday. “The two parties have ignored our request to monitor the process of drafting the law. Because of that, we sent our own draft but we have got no response,” Sin said.

Him Yun of the Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability, a Cambodian NGO, said it was imperative that election reform talks were open to all stakeholders.“The two parties have to open the draft NEC to the public by holding a national workshop before the draft is sent to the National Assembly. The matter is not only for the two parties but for all Cambodian people,” he said.

Representatives from both the Cambodian People’s Party and the Cambodian National Rescue Party confirmed yesterday that they had seen the ERA’s draft law.

“It depends on the working group of the two parties, but for me, I don’t know how much the recommendations of civil society will be included in the draft,” CPP lawmaker and working group member Sik Bun Hok said.

But CNRP spokesman Yem Ponharith said his party supported many of the group’s points and had put them up for discussion. “The working groups plan to finish the NEC draft law next Monday, but about 10 per cent of it remains as sticking points, such as the composition of NEC and process for choosing members.”

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