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Japan to help with elections

Japanese Ambassador Kumamaru Yuji talks to the media yesterday at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh
Japanese Ambassador Kumamaru Yuji talks to the media yesterday at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh after a meeting with the CPP and CNRP to discuss electoral reforms in the Kingdom. Hong Menea

Japan to help with elections

A Japanese government team dispatched to help Cambodia with election reforms is waiting for the ruling and opposition parties to agree on their own ideas, including a new National Election Committee law, before stepping in.

The experts met with both parties yesterday to present the findings of a survey they conducted in May and to discuss possible areas of cooperation, Japanese Ambassador Kumamaru Yuji said.

Kumamaru said that once the parties pass the new NEC law and agree upon changes to the election law, Japan can offer assistance in improving election procedures, capacity-building and voter registration.

“We will probably be sending our team when and where the need arises,” Kumamaru said. “We are still at the rather preliminary stage of our working cooperation with the Cambodian side. But we are willing to lend assistance for the benefit of making sure the next election [will] go very smooth and the election will be a success.”

He added that the new system would “need to restore confidence from the people”.

The Japanese team held a joint meeting with both the Cambodian People’s Party and the Cambodia National Rescue Party yesterday before meeting with both parties separately.

The CPP reforms working group did not speak to the media.

CNRP working group head Kouy Bunroeun told reporters that Japan’s survey had pinpointed numerous areas of concern during last year’s election, including voter registration, a lack of confidence in the NEC and the failure of electoral disputes to be properly resolved.

“With this election reform, Japan wants … reforms that can be accepted by all parties that will ensure the stability of [future] elections. Especially, guaranteeing the rights of all voters and ensuring that everyone can accept the election results,” he said.

Bunroeun added that the CNRP supported Japan’s mission “100 per cent”.

“The results that Japan found are not different from what [post-election] irregularities the [CNRP] documented and what civil society election observers found too,” he said.

Numerous CPP working group members could not be reached for comment.

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