Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong has requested that France send a delegation to observe the upcoming July national election in Cambodia.

Namhong made the request during a courtesy call by French ambassador Jacques Pellet on March 27, the same day Japanese envoy to Cambodia Atsushi Ueno met with the National Election Committee (NEC) to discuss the poll.

“I requested that the ambassador send French observers to the July election,” said Namhong in a social media post.

In response, Pellet suggested that a team of European monitors may arrive three months before the poll.

Namhong also mentioned that this year marked the 70th anniversary of Cambodia’s independence from France.

“The embassy, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, should properly organise an event to demonstrate the friendly relations and close cooperation between our two countries,” he said.

“Although English is widely spoken, Cambodia has been a close member of the French-speaking Francophonie organisation since its inception,” he added.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the French embassy recently celebrated the International Francophonie Day 2023 under the theme “321 million French speakers, billions of cultural meanings” at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC).

Namhong thanked France for becoming the first country in Europe to import significant quantities of milled rice from Cambodia. The trade volume between the two countries was nearly $600 million in 2022.

He also offered his appreciation for the contributions of the French development agency AFD in key priority areas such as agricultural and rural development, infrastructure and irrigation development, and banking and financial institutions.

Separately on March 27, Japanese ambassador Ueno met with NEC chairman Prach Chan to discuss various issues on elections.

Regarding election monitoring, the embassy said in a statement following the meeting: “We are considering informally visiting several polling/ballot-counting stations as ‘special guests’, although we have not made a final decision.”

Chan said the NEC adheres closely to the laws and procedures surrounding the electoral process, and welcome all stakeholders to monitor the elections.

“If they observe any irregularities, they are welcomed to file complaints. Naturally, any complaints must be based on clear evidence,” he said.

Chan said Japan has dispatched an expert to advise on voter education, and that several state institutions have been working with JICA specialists to share the importance of participating in the democratic process at educational institutions.

He noted that Japan has also provided election-related training to NEC officials, including online training and physical classes in Japan.

Hang Puthea, NEC member and spokesman, noted that Japan has provided more than $14 million worth of computer equipment, ballot boxes and vehicles, and continues to support the NEC through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

“Japan wants to see the development of Cambodian democracy, so it will dispatch a team to take part. It will also work with several NGOs to observe the election process,” he said.