The National Election Committee (NEC) has approved nearly 90,000 national and international observers in preparation for the upcoming July 23 general election.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea confirmed on July 18 that 134 organisations and associations had almost 90,000 observers ready for deployment to polling stations.

The NEC has also accredited 84 international observers from 13 institutions, with an additional 126 international observers from 17 institutions still under consideration.

Puthea went on to mention that seven special guests from four organisations have received formal recognition from the committee to supervise the electoral process.

“The local and international organisations’ observation complies with Article 14 of the Law on the Election of Members of the National Assembly. This article stipulates that NGOs can assign their representatives to monitor the election,” he explained.

He emphasised that all observers must have NEC’s formal approval and a deep understanding of the election law and procedures, as well as ethical standards.

Those without sufficient knowledge of the electoral process must receive training from NEC officials.

“Moreover, national and international observers must collaborate with political party representatives, electoral office and vote counting officials, and all relevant parties,” he added.

The role of these observers is to neutrally monitor the electoral process. This includes refraining from political rhetoric at the polling stations. Their duties are limited to observing, recording and listening, without any right to protest or manage the electoral tasks.

“The observers report to the election committee leadership, and their reports should align with NEC’s guidelines. If any discrepancies arise, NEC will request amendments. The observers don’t have the

right to make corrections, but NEC does. This allows them to include NEC’s clarification in their report,” Puthea stressed.

He further added that observers must refrain from any actions that could influence or disrupt the election process, or interfere with polling station officials’ duties.

This includes a ban on photographing, remaining near voting booths, conducting surveys or interviews in the polling stations, and touching election documents and materials.

Puthea underlined: “Observers can’t act arbitrarily. Their role is to monitor, record, and listen to the process. Their mouths aren’t for monitoring the election”.

Keo Mealea, president of the Scholar Association for Peace, revealed on July 18 that his association planned to deploy 15 observers to monitor the general elections in Phnom Penh and six other provinces.

“The aim is to gauge the efficiency, fairness, transparency, and justice of people exercising their rights. Therefore, our observers will scrutinise all the tasks, identify problems and challenges, and we’ll issue a statement after the election concludes,” he said.

NEC deputy secretary-general, Som Sorida, disclosed that the NEC had also consulted with representatives from French-speaking countries about the electoral procedures.

“These representatives were eager to participate in observing the general election. They are scheduled to meet representatives from the organisations, the associations, and political parties,” Sorida added.

On the morning of July 18, the NEC began the distribution of election documents, materials, and ballot boxes to capital and provincial election commissions throughout the country.

Sorida concluded by noting that election materials and ballot boxes had been dispatched to 24 provinces, excluding Phnom Penh. However, the NEC plans to deliver these materials to polling stations in Phnom Penh on July 20 or 21.