The Chinese government has provided office equipment to the National Election Committee for use in the upcoming national election next year.
The equipment includes computers, printers, sound recorders, cameras and other necessary materials, but an estimate on its monetary value has not been revealed.
NEC deputy secretary-general Som Sorida said yesterday that the equipment was provided by China after the NEC compiled a list of required material for carrying out the election smoothly.
“In fact, these materials will facilitate the work of the NEC,” he said. “We already had some equipment, but the aid boost will only help us do our work better.”
He added that Japan would also provide more ballot boxes, as the ones currently in storage are old and in need of updating and more are also needed because there are more voting stations now.
Yoeurng Sotheara, law and monitoring officer for elections watchdog Comfrel, said he is glad China has stepped in to fill a void left by the European Union and the United States, both of which suspended NEC aid in the wake of the CNRP’s dissolution for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.
“The effectiveness of election work depends on the NEC,” he said. “The important thing is not where the aid comes from, but that the NEC carries out its work with neutrality and independently.”
With the suspension of aid, the US had stated that the dissolution of the opposition CNRP was pushing the country’s democratic development backward and said that next year’s election will not be legitimate, free or fair without the CNRP taking part.
But after the aid cuts from the EU and US, Prime Minister Hun Sen said their support was not needed to ensure free and fair elections next year.
NEC chairman Sik Bun Hok said in the past that although there is no longer EU or US assistance, big donors such as China, Japan, South Korea and Russia will be able to prop up the NEC and ensure it can carry out its duties.
Mr Sorida also said yesterday that the budget for the 2018 election is about $52 million.