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Law blocks migrant workers from voting

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
A file photo shows migrant workers travelling to cast their votes. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The National Election Committee has said current laws forbid out-of-country registration and voting, following a meeting yesterday to discuss involving migrant workers in next year’s national election.

NEC president Sik Bun Hok said the committee was not trying to disenfranchise the millions of Cambodians working abroad, but was simply following the law.

“Election registration is a right, but that right must be used according to the law,” he said. “We do not want to limit the rights of people who are abroad. They can still vote if they come back to the country.”

Mr Bun Hok said the election law required registered voters to provide a place of residence within the country and added that the NEC does not have the resources to register them outside the country.

Mr Bun Hok added that if the National Assembly were to amend the current laws and provide the NEC with enough resources, the committee would support the registration of migrant workers.

Yesterday’s meeting was held after a roundtable of NGOs suggested the registration of migrant workers as the NEC begins its work to compile the voter list before next year’s national election.

Sam Kuntheamy, executive director for elections watchdog NICFEC, said that civil society organisations had hoped the NEC would have the power to implement migrant workers registration on its own.

Now that it relied upon amendments to the law, Mr Kuntheamy said he was not hopeful of such changes coming, since the ruling CPP would likely oppose them.

Mr Kuntheamy added that he was instead hoping that some migrant workers in Thailand could visits communes along the border to register and vote.

“It will be a little difficult for our migrant workers, but they can come to communes along the border to register and vote hopefully,” Mr Kuntheamy said.

Preap Kol, executive director of International Transparency Cambodia, said the opposition CNRP and CPP should unite on this issue.

“This is a political case, and we want to see a resolution brought forth by all politicians,” he said. “I want to see our people who work abroad to vote, just like other countries allow them to.

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