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ERA raises concerns for voter registration

People wait in line at a voter registration station in Phnom Penh this week to register ahead of the upcoming elections. Photo supplied
People wait in line at a voter registration station in Phnom Penh this week to register ahead of the upcoming elections. Photo supplied

ERA raises concerns for voter registration

A recent military show of force and a politically motivated road blockade may have had the effect of deterring eligible voters from registering, the Electoral Reform Alliance (ERA) has said.

In a statement released on Tuesday evening, the ERA, a coalition of NGOs in Cambodia, urged that any such actions cease during the three-month voter registration period in order to ensure free and fair elections.

“A day before the registration started, there were several helicopters flying, the transportation of commando forces in trucks, and military speed boats at river without prior notice,” the statement reads, referring to the “military exercises” deployed near the opposition party headquarters where acting president Kem Sokha is avoiding arrest, and to a police blockade of National Road 2 on Monday to prevent lawmakers from delivering petitions to embassies.

“This is a scene that could affect the feelings and freedom of travel of the people to register,” the statement continues.

Comfrel executive director Koul Panha said it was crucial voters had freedom of movement without fear. However, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said the process was on track, with more than 1 million voters now registered.

National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith yesterday expressed regrets over Monday’s traffic jam, but claimed police were in fact attempting to divert and ease traffic, adding Tuesday’s grenade blast could also spark fear and police were working to catch the culprit.

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