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Minor parties left out of election monitoring process

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An election official shows a ballot paper to monitors at a voting station at a high school in Phnom Penh during commune elections in 2012. Heng Chivoan

Minor parties left out of election monitoring process

The National Election Committee (NEC) said on Wednesday that 50,000 party-affiliated election observers had signed up to monitor the July 29 national polls, even as many opposition parties announced they would not send any due to lack of resources NEC member and spokesman Hang Puthea told The Post that it has recognised more than 50,000 party agents, though he couldn’t give exact numbers for each party.

July 5 was the final day for parties to register their observers – two for each polling venue.

According to NEC data, the 2013 national election was monitored by over 14,000 observers from opposition parties.

Puthea said the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), Funcinpec, the Khmer National United Party (KNUP) and the League for Democracy Party (LDP) have provided a number of observers, while newly created parties hadn’t signed up any.

“Some parties don’t send their agents. I can’t recall their names as they are just new parties. The law stipulates that a political party has the right to send agents, which means they can send or not send election observers."

“There are observers from NGOs and other parties. Therefore, there are no obstacles which impact the accuracy of the election,” Puthea said.

Puthea said close to 70,000 monitors were already given the NEC’s approval, including 43 international observers from China, Singapore, and Myanmar. The registration’s deadline for international observers is on July 18, while the deadline for national observers is July 25.

Cambodian Youth Party (CYP) president Pich Sros said his party will send some observers, but not in every polling station because they lacked resources. However, he didn’t specify how many observers it would send.

“CYP observers will be assigned to some polling stations as we are completely reliant on volunteers. The party does not have money to pay them,” Sros said.

Kong Monika, president of the Khmer Will Party (KWP), which is fielding many candidates who were active in the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), said due to time constraints, his party is unable to appoint observers for the vote.

“The KWP has not assigned any agents. The party will rely on the NEC to carry out its duties as a neutral and independent institution. Therefore, the NEC must ensure its neutrality and not be influenced by any powerful individuals like in the past.

“If not, the election results will be unacceptable to political parties and the public,” he said.

Monika expressed hope that observers from Japan carry out their duties with full transparency.

Election expert Yoeurng Sotheara said this election isn’t different from previous ones; while major parties have resources, less popular or minor parties are lacking.

He said many minor parties were now putting their faith in the independence of observers from NGOs.

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