Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Experts warn of likely 10-14 day election delay

Experts warn of likely 10-14 day election delay

Experts warn of likely 10-14 day election delay

SACRIFICES have been made and many corners cut to squeeze an election out of Cambodia

on July 26 with "minimum standards" of credibility, but despite pressure

to stick to the date, election technicians now insist that a delay of between ten

to 14 days is now unavoidable.

The biggest problem, according to the experts, is a postponement in voter registration

that will cause a domino effect on all other major election dates.

The latest election timetable sets the establishment of voter registration stations

around the country at April 20. Voter registration is to begin a week later on April

27. The European Union's 1,700 registration kits, election workers report, are currently

expected to arrive in Cambodia on May 6 - more than 16 days late.

Additionally, election technicians are now concerned that 28 days will not be enough

to give all voters in the country's many remote areas the opportunity to register.

One estimated that no more than 70% of potential voters would get registered under

the current circumstances.

Rumors that a polling-date delay would be necessary have persisted for months, but

they had been limited to whispers under the CPP's insistence that July 26 was a set

and unchangeable date.

Despite this set-in-stone attitude, all other election-related dates have remained

fluid as the National Election Commission bends and twists around budgetary shortages,

technical pitfalls and political problems.

Long-anticipated amendments to the election law were passed March 31 by the National

Assembly to readjust the election timetable and alter candidacy requirements to ensure

the participation of Prince Norodom Ranariddh and other self-exiles.

But even as the amendments were being debated, Interior co-Minister Sar Kheng, whom

experts say is "well-informed on the subject", hinted on the Assembly floor

that the election law may arrive in parliament for a third time to discuss a polling-date

delay.

Sar Kheng later told the Post that Cambodia's "international friends"

had mentioned to him the unavoidable registration delays and it was his personal

assessment - not the government's nor the Assembly's nor the CPP's - that a polling

delay will be needed.

"The international community's assistance is late... this is a technical problem

that will affect the election date," Sar Kheng said. "I told the Assembly

that if it is necessary for the election to be delayed, it should only be by ten

to 14 days."

The minister's assessment mirrors that of election experts in the Election Bureau

at the Interior. Without such a delay, they warn, minimum international standards

cannot be met.

NEC President Chheng Phon said he was unsure if a delay was unavoidable, but that

the NEC would meet soon to discuss the issue of the late registration kits.

"I do not know [about a delay], this appears to be a technical issue,"

Chheng Phon said.

"I don't want the election to be delayed, but if it must be we have to give

the National Assembly time to amend the law."

An election expert added that the move to delay elections should be publicized -

and at least tacitly approved - before the April 19 meeting of the "Friends

of Cambodia" in Bangkok.

Additional election assistance could be forthcoming at the meeting if technical progress

on elections and the return of Prince Ranariddh outweigh concerns over mounting intimidation

and killings of opposition members in the provinces.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Delta spreading in Kingdom

    Cambodia has so far detected more than 200 cases of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant, with 109 found on July 31 and August 1. The Ministry of Health has expressed deep concerns that the variant may have already reached communities and be spreading as some of the cases

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four

  • US' Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines arrive

    The first batch of 455,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US touched down in Phnom Penh on the morning of July 30. They are part of the total 1,060,100 doses the US has pledged to provide to Cambodia through the World Health Organisation-led (