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Voter registration ahead of schedule: NEC

National Election Committee member Mean Satik speaks at a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday.
National Election Committee member Mean Satik speaks at a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday. Pha Lina

Voter registration ahead of schedule: NEC

With almost 2 million voters registered so far, the National Election Committee yesterday declared its roll-out of new digital voter lists to be ahead of schedule, though efforts to organise “free and fair” elections continued to be undermined by the persecution of opposition politicians, an election watchdog was quick to note.

Two weeks into the registration drive, senior NEC members yesterday provided a status report at a press conference in the capital.

NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha said that in 13 days almost 2 million citizens had been logged into the new system, a figure that boded well for registering Cambodia’s estimated 9.6 million eligible voters within the three-month timeframe.

“The result is better than we expected,” he said, adding that 53 per cent of registrants were women.

Nytha further mentioned that 88 percent of registrants used the new Khmer identification card, 9 percent used old ID cards and about 2 percent – 4,000 people – used identification certificates.

According to a statement, eight complaints related to registration have been lodged with commune councils thus far, while a further nine were received by the NEC’s Legal and Dispute Department.

NEC member and spokesman Hang Puthea said that most of the complaints were between individuals, giving the example of a ruling CPP complaint in Kampot against an opposition CNRP observer they claim interfered with registrants.

He cited a similar example in Siem Reap, though in that case the CNRP were the accusers.

“We are solving them,” he added.

Separately yesterday, the Electoral Reform Alliance released a statement demanding the government drop legal charges against CNRP president Sam Rainsy and deputy president Kem Sokha. Both men have been sentenced to jail time in cases widely considered politically motivated.

The group said the litigation undermined the party’s chance to compete and thus threatened the potential for free elections. “Both . . . Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha face the risk of losing their rights to stand [as candidates] and be voted for,” it noted.

Asked about the recent political tensions, NEC spokesman Puthea said “we want both parties to understand each other, talk to each other . . . and work to attract support”.

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