The Grassroots Democracy Party announced yesterday that it will register at the National Election Committee to contest the national election in July as the election body vowed to remain neutral and independent.
The GDP’s announcement came yesterday after 31 of 32 of the party’s board members voted in favour of contesting the election after meeting to discuss the issue with 100 party officials from the provinces at party headquarters in Phnom Penh.
Sam Inn, spokesman for the GDP, said that the party decided to contest the election because no threats existed against party officials, activists or supporters and because the party also had the freedom to disseminate information through various media outlets.
“Our working team also considered whether participating in the election provided benefits or difficulties for the country’s future. Another thing is that we want to give the people a new choice by taking part,” Mr Inn said.
Late last month, the GDP warned it would not contest the election on July 29 if the political situation was unfavourable.
Mr Inn said that he regretted that three senior members of the NEC resigned last year after the CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November and 118 senior members of the party were banned from politics for five years.
“Until now, we cannot say that the NEC is not neutral or the election will not be good. We continue to monitor the process of conducting the election. We see that regarding local procedures, their response is on time and they have provided good support to all political parties so far,” he said.
NEC chairman Sik Bun Hok last week said in front of more than 800 election officials from Takeo, Kampot, Kep and Koh Kong provinces that the NEC was committed to working properly as stipulated by the law to be independent and neutral in order to ensure a free and fair election.
Mr Bun Hok said that if the election was not free and fair, it would plunge the country into chaos and destruction as in the past.
“We already have peace, why would we want to lose it? Related to the election, the NEC is also working to respect the people’s will,” he said.
NEC spokesman Dim Sovannarom welcomed the GDP’s decision to compete in the national election.
Mr Sovannarom said that as of yesterday, three political parties have registered candidates to contest the national election while 21 parties have requested forms from the NEC.
Korn Savang, monitoring coordinator for election watchdog Comfrel, lauded the GDP for taking part in contesting the election.
“I applaud the party’s decision to compete. It is an option for the people to choose their favourite political parties,” he said.
“For our civil society organisation, we look at the laws, the circumstances, and participation from political parties as well as the will of the people, which are the fundamental principles of democracy.”
Mr Savang said that a free and fair election did not only need voters to participate, but also needed participation from political parties.