The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia yesterday asked the National Election Committee and government to stabilise the current political climate to increase voter registration ahead of next year’s national election.
Kang Savang, a monitor with Comfrel, said voter registration had been hampered by the political climate, which has seen numerous party presidents jailed, including opposition CNRP leader Kem Sokha.
“We have observed very slow registration so far,” he said.
Voter registration began on September 1 and runs until November 9. About 338,000 people have registered so far out of the expected 1.6 million newly eligible to cast a ballot.
Mr Savang said the low turnout of new voters was troubling and was likely linked to the political climate.
“The political situation has made people unhappy and they are not taking part in registration,” he said. “The NEC should ask the government to ensure the political situation is better in order for people to have faith in the process and join registration.”
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said that Comfrel has the right to draw its own conclusions.
“It is their view,” Mr Puthea said, noting that the NEC is independent from the government.
“I want to clarify, don’t try to connect the NEC with politics.”
Mr Puthea added that he expects more people to register as the deadline nears.
“It is the habit of our people,” he said. “When registration is nearly closed, they will come.”
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said Comfrel’s conclusions were incorrect.
“Many people voted recently in the commune elections, in fact the turnout was more than 90 percent. So no one is abandoning their vote.”