Thousands of poll observers trained

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
NEC spokesman Dim Sovannarom. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Civil Society Forum has trained more than 1,000 observers to oversee the election process.

In addition, the NEC had accredited more than 60,000 national and international observers as of yesterday for the national election.

Kemrath Viseth, head of the Civil Society Department and chairman of the national and international observation coordinating committee, spoke about the training at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh yesterday.

He said the participation of election observers from civil society was necessary to ensure the electoral process was transparent, free, fair and just according to the constitution and laws.

“The training of civil society observers to strengthen the process of democratisation in Cambodia demonstrates neutrality based on integrity for forthcoming national election,” he said.

Mr Viseth said 1,038 national civil society observers from 94 organisations and associations throughout the country had attended training.

NEC spokesman Dim Sovannarom said that as of yesterday, the NEC had recognised 65,744 national observers and 37 international observers, and was reviewing requests to work as observers from more than 4,525 people for the 22,967 polling stations across the country.

Members of the Civil Society Forum attend the workshop. KT/Chor Sokunthea

“For the upcoming election, there will be more than 70,000 national observers, which is a vast number,” Mr Sovannarom said. “Article 10 of the Law on the Elections states that national observers or associations can participate as electoral observers.”

“The word can is not a compulsory act. Therefore, whether there are observers or not is not an obstacle to the election. The election result is still officially accepted,” he added.

Major local election watcdogs Comfrel and its counterpart Nicfec decided not to monitor the election after being blacklisted following the June 2017 commune elections.

Thirty-eight civil society groups formed a ‘Situation Room’ to monitor the June 4, 2017 commune elections, but it was later probed under the Law on Association and Non-governmental Organisations.​The investigation concluded the consortium should have registered with the ministry as a single entity according to the law.

Nhem Thoeun, an observer from the Cambodia for Confederation Development Association in Preah Sihanouk province, said this was his first time as an electoral observer. He expected the ballot to be fair, transparent and neutral.

“Observers play a crucial role because we can observe if there is anything that can be hidden,” he said. “We can take notes, photograph and report all the actions at all times, so we can help to monitor the election for neutrality and transparency.”

According to the NEC, the deadline to stop taking applications for observers will be ten days before the election. For international observers, the NEC will cease to receive registration applications three days before the election.

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