Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has accused the National Election Committee (NEC) of
contributing to the ruling party's "political impunity," and is blasting
its month-long campaign to compile voter lists as a "vicious scheme."
"It's a big plot being implemented in order to deprive up to two million potential
voters of their rights," Rainsy said by phone from Kampong Cham on August 10.
"They are organizing confusion and creating unnecessary work and procedures
for people - most of whom are unable to do it."
According to Tep Nytha, secretary-general of the NEC, his group has printed more
than 6.7 million election information leaflets ahead of the voter registration process
in October. The NEC distributed the leaflets to individual commune councils who,
in turn, directed them to be handed out by the newly elected village chiefs. Nytha
said that so far this month 400,000 leaflets have been distributed.
"The people who receive the election information leaflets can add their names
to the voter registration list," Nytha said. "The voter can examine the
name and information on the document to verify [its accuracy] before the voter registration
starts in October."
In June elections, which were boycotted by election watchdog NGOs, the CPP won more
than 98 percent of the country's 13,796 village chief positions.
"We now understand why they were so eager to help those village chiefs get [their]
positions," Rainsy said. "It was part of a scheme to manipulate the [coming]
election. The results of 2007 and 2008 are being decided now through the registration
process. It is a vicious scheme to deprive citizens of their voting rights. And the
CPP is requesting $13 million to finance the voting process - that's another dirty
Rainsy claims that CPP-aligned village chiefs will simply skip the homes of villagers
who are not CPP supporters. He also alleges that correcting names and addresses on
the voter leaflets is beyond the literacy level of most rural Cambodians, and only
CPP followers receive assistance.
"The NEC is independent on paper, but in fact they are doing what the CPP asks
them to do," he said. "We now have a system of political impunity. Generally
any party that continues to violate the country will be toppled or voted out. Through
this trick of the registration process, now we have politicians who can stay in power
for ever even if they violate rights."
Rainsy said he will reveal evidence of his allegations at an August 11 press conference
at Sam Rainsy Party headquarters.
Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (Comfrel),
has sent 30 staff members to 300 communes to monitor the auditing of voter lists
to discern the exact number of voters.
"The leaflet is very important," he said. "The voters receive information
about the election, and the NEC is able to know the number of voters. If people don't
receive the leaflets it means their name may not appear on the list to vote."
Panha said that in the 2003 elections an audit of voter lists by Comfrel found that
4 percent of the voters were so-called "ghost voters," an irregularity
where there is a name on the list but no vote.
"The leaflet information is good, but the problem we have is the distributors
who take sides in politics because of the party infrastructure at the commune and
village levels," he said.
"At this time we don't have enough data to comment about political manipulation,
because the process of handing out leaflets has just begun. Our watchdogs have been
sent out remote communes to collect information."