Cambodian NGOs Call for Election Committee Selected By Neutral Body
Cambodia’s National Election Committee (NEC), which oversees the country’s polls, should be revamped with representatives picked by an independent panel in a transparent manner with the involvement of all stakeholders, a group of non-governmental organizations said in a report after investigating the latest disputed elections.
The Election Reform Alliance (ERA), consisting of eight nongovernmental organizations, said in the report that election reform must begin with the government-appointed NEC, which officially declared Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) the victor in the July 28 polls despite opposition allegations of fraud and other irregularities.
“The National Election Committee should be dismantled and a new, independent, and constitutionally-mandated election commission should be created with the authority, comprehensive jurisdiction, and budget to operate effectively,” the report said.
“Commissioners of this new body must be selected in a transparent manner with the involvement of all stakeholders,” it said. “Local electoral officials must also be recruited publicly by a selection committee composed of NEC and political party representatives.”
The ERA said that in light of the disputed election, which the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) maintains was stolen from it due to poll fraud, “mechanisms to resolve election conflicts and complaints must be reformed.”
It recommended the creation of a separate body, such as a special electoral prosecutor, special electoral court, inspector general or ombudsman, to investigate irregularities.
The CNRP had said that more than 1 million names had been removed from voter registries in July’s polls.
The ERA cited findings by the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel)—which along with other groups such as ADHOC, Licadho and NICFEC released the report—putting the number of missing names at 1.25 million.
NICFEC and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), another contributor, said that nearly 20 percent of names on the voter registration were invalid, either because they had permanently moved to another location, were deceased, or were unknown to members of the community.
The ERA also revealed instances of duplicate names, over-registration in certain districts and the use of invalid ballots during the election.
Rights groups and the opposition have long held that the NEC heavily favors the ruling party, pointing out that the commission’s headquarters are even based inside the Ministry of the Interior’s compound.