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Election will go forward without NGO observers, official says

Mom Sophon / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
International observers are shown a ballot box during the June 2017 commune polls. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The upcoming national election on July 29 will take place as scheduled despite no officials from civil society being registered to monitor the process, a senior CPP official said yesterday.

Sok Eysan, spokesman for the ruling CPP, said that the national election was approaching and moving on as scheduled, despite representatives from civil society not yet confirming their participation.

“Some civil society organisations are not yet ready to be registered and are waiting to see if the political situation may change as they wish, with negotiations between the ruling party and the former opposition party that may then have a chance to join the elections, but their waiting achieves nothing,” Mr Eysan said.

The opposition CNRP was dissolved last year after its leader Kem Sokha was jailed on treason charges for allegedly conspiring with the United States to topple the government through a colour revolution.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said last week that the democratic process in Cambodia would continue unabated, noting that the national election would not be postponed or cancelled as it has been in other countries.

“We have not stopped any elections in Cambodia, as have other countries who abandoned the election because of the political environment. There will be no postponement in Cambodia,” Mr Hun Sen said. “This is the normal process of Cambodian democracy.”

In January, former opposition leader Sam Rainsy requested the polls be postponed to avoid violence and Cambodia becoming a pariah state. But the proposal was shot down by Mr Hun Sen.

Korn Savong, a coordinator with election watchdog Comfrel, said that civil society has always conducted its activities based on legal norms.

“The participation from the people, candidates of political parties, national and international civil society organisations is needed because the country’s reputation and the value if its elections are on the line,” he said.

However, he noted that Comfrel has not yet made a decision on whether it would register to observe the election.

He said that in the June 2017 commune election, 53 organisations and associations were involved in the election process and about 15,000 observers were deployed nationwide.

Afterwards, the Interior Ministry launched an investigation into a “situation room”, a group of about 40 NGOs that monitored the election.

The investigation resulted in the group announcing that it would not gather to monitor the national election after it was accused of being illegal because it had not registered as a single entity under the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations.

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