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NEC says helicopter rentals a routine matter for the polls

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Representatives from the National Election Committee speak at a press conference on Wednesday. Pha Lina

NEC says helicopter rentals a routine matter for the polls

National Election Committee (NEC) spokesperson Hang Puthea said on Wednesday that it should not come as a surprise that the committee has rented two helicopters for three days during the election period.

This, he said, was because the NEC had done so consistently for every election over the past 20 years.

He said two helicopters were hired from a private company and would be used from July 28-30 for emergency purposes.

“It is the rainy season and some roads are up in the mountains. The NEC respects the rights of voters, and any place with at least 300 voters must have a polling station. No matter where the people are, the NEC must prepare a station close to their homes.

“Some regions are mountainous and can only be reached by elephants or on foot. Sometimes, roads have slippery surfaces, and this makes it slow to deliver and collect election boxes and cast ballots,” Puthea said.

While not mentioning the name of the helicopter supplier or the rental cost, he said the standby cost was nearly a dollar a minute, while actual operating cost were double that. He stressed that the company was chosen through a bidding process.

Meanwhile, the NEC held a meeting yesterday to remind all political parties about campaign rules. Election campaigning begins on Saturday and continues until July 27. The national election is set for July 29.

Both the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the fledgling Khmer Will Party (KWP) have rallies planned for Saturday in the capital.

The Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) will hold its first event of the campaign period in Takeo, before marching in Phnom Penh on July 10.