The National Election Committee (NEC) yesterday said the recent political developments involving the detention of Cambodia’s opposition leader would not affect its efforts to register eligible voters ahead of next year’s national elections, though an observer said the arrest put the legitimacy of the electoral process at risk.
The electoral body started the registration process on Friday and had registered around 20,000 voters in the past four days.
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea seemed unfazed by the potential effects that the arrest of Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Kem Sokha might have on the electoral process.
“The incident happened recently and the NEC could not take the responsibility [to deal with it], but the NEC’s task is the technical work,” he said. The NEC was solely focused on following electoral law, he added.
Sokha was arrested around midnight on Sunday for alleged treason relating to a 2013 video of him speaking to supporters in Australia, in which he claimed to have US assistance in his political career.
However, Sam Kuntheamy, head of election monitor Nicfec, said the arrest of an opposition leader was bound to affect the elections next year if the primary opposition remains leaderless. “If there is no leader, the decision will not be made smoothly and it affects democracy as well,” he said.