Nearly 60,000 people have registered to vote in next year’s national election during the first week of registration.
Hang Puthea, spokesman for the National Election Committee, said yesterday that 59,185 people across the country went to register from September 1 to September 10. Voter registration runs from September 1 to November 9.
Last month, NEC president Sik Bun Hok said those who had become old enough to vote along with those who did not register last year amounted to 1,412,149 people. He also said that 23,470 election offices would be needed.
Mr Bun Hok added that Cambodia has a population of 15,883,250. Those aged 18 and over, who have the right to vote, total 9,788,239. There were 7,865,033 people on the 2016 voting list.
“I think that during Pchum Ben, maybe some Cambodian migrant workers will come to register,” Mr Puthea added.
La Sophea, 38, a migrant worker from Kampong Thom province who lives in Thailand, said he will not be able to make the trip, even during the holiday.
“I cannot go to register because my company will not allow me to take a holiday, even if it is Pchum Ben in Cambodia,” he said.
Mr Sophea added that he wants to register, but cannot afford to lose wages for the four or five days it would take to travel and complete the process before returning to his job in Thailand.
Moeun Tola, executive director of rights group Central, said 60,000 registered voters in the first week is a good turnout.
“I think that this is a good figure for the NEC,” Mr Tola said.
“However, what we are concerned about is the political situation nowadays that can make people disheartened. I’ve heard some people ask each other: ‘Should we go to register or not?’ ”
Opposition CNRP leader Kem Sokha is currently behind bars on treason charges linked to an interview in which he spoke of receiving advice from the US on how to invoke regime change in Cambodia.
Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of election watchdog NICFEC, said he thought the first-week turnout was small. “This number is small, so we are concerned,” he said.