The National Election Committee (NEC) received a mix of brickbats and bouquets at
an evaluation conference March 5-7 on the 2002 commune elections.
Prince Norodom Ranariddh, party head of election under-performer Funcinpec, said
the NEC's dual role in receiving and deciding on complaints was unsatisfactory.
"The NEC's role as a body to both receive complaints and make decisions on those
cases is no formula for justice," said Ranariddh. He added that reform of the
NEC was recognized as necessary by Prime Minister Hun Sen and the international community.
The resident representative of the UN Development Program (UNDP), Dominique Ait-Ouyahia-McAdams,
praised the NEC for producing "a credible election".
"I strongly welcome the arrival of 951 women and 3,500 non-CPP members into
the commune council ranks and request that the government ensure a smooth transition
of power," she said. However she warned that the numerous acts of violence and
intimidation needed to be addressed.
"We cannot ignore the incidences of violence and intimidation that occurred
in the lead up to the election, or the unbalanced media reporting during the campaign
period," she said. "Work must be done to address these and other issues
before the national elections in 2003."
The UN's human rights office counted 17 possible election-related deaths in the 13-
month period preceding the election.
"Intimidation of candidates by military and local officials contributed to create
a climate of fear amongst opposition candidates. These actions are unacceptable,"
the UNDP head said.
Some categories of complaints were dealt with properly, others such as intimidation,
were not. She said the body's reluctance to impose legal sanctions had allowed a
climate of impunity to prevail.
UNDP is providing advice to the NEC on an improved voter registration system, and
is prepared to help with reform of the NEC. Appointments to the new NEC board are
scheduled for August this year.