A National Election Committee (NEC) member yesterday said that recent political tension was one of the reasons for the subdued voter registration, with the ongoing drive to enrol new voters nearing its halfway mark with just 17 percent of such voters registered.
NEC officials have so far shied away from attributing the lethargic registrations to the government’s recent clampdown on the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party – which has seen its leader, Kem Sokha, arrested on “treason” charges. But committee member Rong Chhun, an opposition appointee, said yesterday that the political situation was certainly a factor.
“I have received reports that many people and youth are expressing their feelings of not wanting to register or not wanting to vote, because this political situation is bad,” he said, adding that other factors like excessive rain and lack of relevant documents were also slowing down the process.
The low turnout has also been exacerbated by a lack of measures helping Cambodian migrants overseas – totalling more than a million – to register for next year’s ballot.
While NEC spokesman and nonpartisan member Hang Puthea had previously denied the process was being held up by recent political events, he yesterday acknowledged that he agreed with Chhun.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha last month also acknowledged that registration booths were not receiving many people, but maintained it was largely due to tepid participation from migrant workers.
However, despite many migrants travelling home during major holidays, voter registration was closed throughout the recent Pchum Ben holiday.