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NEC: $17 million for 2008 elections

NEC: $17 million for 2008 elections

The National Election Committee (NEC) has submitted a budget proposal to the government

estimating a cost of $17 million for running the national elections scheduled for

July 26, 2008. The NEC also announced on July 24 that the National Assembly seats,

up for grabs ahead of the fourth mandate, will remain at the current number of 123.

Tep Nytha, secretary-general of the NEC, told the Post on July 25 that the NEC will

issue instructions in August to the members of the country's Commune Councils to

update any population changes on their voter lists. The NEC estimated that 8 million

voters will turn out for the 2008 polls-roughly 60 percent of the Kingdom's population.

The process will be completed by December 30 this year and the NEC will publish the

voter information.

Earlier this year the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won 98.2 percent of the

Commune Council positions and appointed 1,591 of the total 1,621 commune chiefs.

The lopsided tally drew opposition charges of political discrimination aimed at parties

competing with the CPP.

Koul Panha, executive director of Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia

(Comfrel) said that the local election monitoring NGOs are concerned that the voter

list campaign may violate some citizens' right to vote.

"We are concerned that members of the Commune Council will ignore their work

and also that people won't be keen to check the list," Panha said. "We

are also concerned the process would be biased towards the CPP."

Panha said that Comfrel will look closely into the process of an update of voter

list, but it was capable of monitoring only 10 percent of 1,621 communes. Hang Puthea,

Executive Director of Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Election

in Cambodia (NICFEC) said that the NICFEC has deployed 260 staff to monitor the process

within several provinces.

Sam Rainsy, president of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), told the Post on July 25 that

the CPP has organized a plan to maneuver the names of SRP supporters off the voter

lists.

But, CPP member Nytha said that according to the law Commune Councils must list all

people of voting age in their commune, as well as note all deaths and cases of relocation.

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