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Quashed report warns of delay

Quashed report warns of delay

THE July 26 polling date may yet have to be changed, according to warnings in the

recently quashed foreign observers' report.

The report said the National Election Committee (NEC) may not want to announce any

postponement "for political reasons", and for fear it would be accused

of being incompetent.

The report, collated from the work of 56 foreign observers said the technical preparation

for the election is weak in three areas:

- The NEC had admitted recruitment and training of 60,000 polling station staff was

"slower than anticipated".

- There was a strong potential for delays in getting all the ballots and kits out

to each polling station on time.

- The final computer-generated list of voters was also behind schedule and might

not be finished and distributed in time.

"[Any] serious delays... may have an effect on the whole electoral process,"

the report said.

"The Joint International Observer Group (JIOG) should think about the possibility

of keeping all its observers in country [Cambodia] if polling day is postponed due

to technical reasons."

The observers' suggested that the JIOG "might wish to ascertain from the NEC

whether the elections can be held technically on July 26... If not, the JIOG would

have to reschedule the arrival of its [400] short-term observers."

The observers also told JIOG that the "prevalence of CPP members in the election

commissions and their contact with local authorities do not inspire confidence in

the neutrality of the elections".

CPP officials were still confiscating registration cards and recording names of voters,

the observers said.

They said the NEC should emphasize to its staff that independence and neutrality

is pivotal to the success of the election.

Meanwhile, other observer groups have been making public statements about Cambodia's

electoral process and human rights situation.

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute

(IRI) said July 14 that the electoral process was "fundamentally flawed"

but despite that "the outcome of the elections is not a foregone conclusion

and it merits international attention."

And NDI-IRI joint delegation, which visited Cambodia July 6-13, heard several people

say they were worried the government may not accept the results of the election.

They urged the international community to also monitor the post-election period.

Confining the monitoring process to the campaign period and technical aspects of

the poll - as the Joint International Observer Group is doing - was "a limited

perspective [that] gives a distorted view of the elections as a whole," the

groups said.

In other developments, July 1 weekly report from the UN Human Rights office, detailing

political murders and intimidation, has been slammed by both the government and a

new think-tank called the Cambodian Research Center (CRC).

Second Prime Minister Hun Sen was quoted in The Cambodia Daily saying that no one

had been killed because of the political campaign.

The CRC, set up by Belgian Raoul M. Jennar, described the report as part of a systematic

disinformation campaign on the part of UN special representative on human rights,

Thomas Hammarberg.

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