Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NEC again dismisses concerns about lack of US, EU participation

NEC again dismisses concerns about lack of US, EU participation

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The National Election Committee holds a meeting in September to discuss voter registration for this month’s national elections. Sreng Meng Srun

NEC again dismisses concerns about lack of US, EU participation

A National Election Committee (NEC) official on Sunday dismissed the lack of US and EU observers as unimportant for the July 29 national elections, as at least 200 others from Asian nations would be present.

Wrapping up on July 23, the drive has so far signed up over 50,000 monitors. For the 2017 commune elections, the NEC reported 384 international observers from foreign embassies and international NGOs, including 120 observers from the US and the European Union (EU).

The US and EU have suspended all support for the NEC at this year’s polls, claiming credible elections were impossible in the current political climate.

However, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea told The Post on Sunday that, so far, 17 international observers from the embassies of Myanmar, Singapore and China will be present. Thirty other international monitors are still being reviewed.

“We are contacting another 30 [international] observers who said they will arrive two days before election day, they are from 10 countries in Asia and some international NGOs,” Puthea said.

Additionally, he said he had gotten word from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about 150 more international observers who were interested in monitoring the process.

“Based on information that I have received from the ministry, it is helping to facilitate documents for another 150 international observers from 32 countries,” he said, adding that even more international monitors could come via the Council of Ministers.

On Sunday, it was announced on Twitter that Thailand would also be sending observers.

Addressing the lack of participation from the US or the EU, Puthea said: “It is not an important thing … they make their own decisions.”

Yoeurng Sotheara, an election expert, said observers from established democracies are used to conducting credible elections and their presence should be valued.

“The invited observers work without professional skills or election techniques and are just there for the sake of invitation, perhaps in the interest of foreign diplomacy."

“Credibility, independence and reputation are very important for election observers. The US and the EU have a long history of assisting Cambodia in election reforms and helping the war-torn nation to recover. Their past contributions should not be forgotten,” he said.

Political analyst Meas Nee said international observers arrived just to fulfil a requirement by their government.

“Arriving to observe the election does not mean they come to recognise the new government. They just come to see what is going on here,” he said.

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