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Monitor pledges 5,000 observers for election

Monitor pledges 5,000 observers for election

The election monitoring organisation Comfrel yesterday announced it would deploy more than 5,000 observers to monitor every aspect of the campaign leading up to the June 3 commune elections and the final division of power among winning candidates.

But at a round-table organised by the Club of Cambodian Journalists, National Election Committee secretary-general Tep Nytha dismissed Comfrel’s efforts as “not up to international standards”.

Comfrel executive director Koul Panha said monitors would pay particular attention to political activity on “white day”, the one-day buffer between the end of the campaign season and the June 3 vote.

“[Previously] we observed that the white day . . . is a very important opportunity for politicians to influence voters, such as vote-buying and intimidation,” he said, citing examples of candidates or party representatives going door to door to pressure voters.

Koul Panha accused some ruling CPP officials of using scare tactics such as observing people as they voted at an election office.

He said this frightened voters, as many did not understand their vote was secret.

Tep Nytha retorted that Comfrel did not have any evidence to back its allegations and that at least 5,000 observers from 16 organisations would monitor the election.

He also said the NEC would station three security guards – one armed – at each of the nation’s 18,107 election offices, as well as making moves to increase transparency.

“[During] the election in UNTAC time, the ballots were taken from election offices to keep in the provincial offices for one night [before counting] – that is difficult to control.

“Now, we count ballots immediately after the election closes. This proves that the election has transparency.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Sokchea at [email protected]