Overseas voters told to register at home

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
NEC president Sik Bun Hok is urging newly eligible voters to return to Cambodia to register. KT/Mai Vireak

The National Election Committee has appealed to Cambodian people working or studying abroad to come home and register to vote in the 2018 national election.

The call came as civil society organisations continued to urge the NEC to set up overseas offices to register voters.

According to the NEC statement signed by president Sik Bun Hok on Wednesday, the voter list will be updated between today and November 9.

“Cambodian people who did not register to vote in 2016 or have recently turned 18 should come home to register before the deadline,” the statement said.

“Those not on the list for 2017 cannot vote for the national election 2018.”

The statement said the NEC has asked all Cambodian embassies and consulates to broadcast the message.

Mr Bun Hok said last month that those who had become old enough to vote along with those who did not register last year amounted to 1,412,149 people.

Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of election watchdog NICFEC, questioned how many people would be able to return home to register.

“If 1.4 million people need to register, I assume about half might be able to,” said Mr Kuntheamy.

He urged the NEC to set up offices to register workers abroad if it really wants to serve Cambodian citizens living outside the country, adding the government should also ask Thai officials to grant a special holiday to migrant workers, so they can register at home.

Moeun Tola, executive director of labour rights group Central, agreed.

“The obstacle to registering for migrant workers is that it is difficult to ask permission from employers, so the government should contact the Thai government to help,” he said.

“It would also be good if the NEC could set up registry points along the border between Cambodia and Thailand,” Mr Tola added, saying it would be even better if NEC offices were set up on Thai soil.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said Cambodian law does not require the NEC to create registry offices abroad.

“The NEC operates according to the law, so please don’t ask the NEC do something illegal,” Mr Puthea said.

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