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Cambodian Parties to Monitor Voter Registration Project

FILE - Young men are seen taking photos of a ballot box at a polling station in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 28, 2013.
FILE - Young men are seen taking photos of a ballot box at a polling station in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 28, 2013.

Cambodia’s political parties say they are preparing to monitor a voter registration pilot project which will be held in November ahead of future local and national polls.

The project by the new National Election Committee (NEC), which was established earlier this year, will use computers and a digital system to register eligible voters for local elections in 2017 and national elections in 2018.

Election observers and the opposition have complained that the old NEC was biased in favor of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), and that voter registration was made difficult for supporters of other parties.

Party representatives told VOA Khmer this week they will closely monitor the new system and the NEC.

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the main opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), said despite some concern over the timeliness of the registration, the party will leave the NEC to work independently, while monitoring the process.

“We will wait to see the data collection procedure and see what the obstacles are,” he said, adding that party officials have been notified at the districts, communes and villages where the pilot project is being held.

‘A good step forward’

Sam Inn, a representative of the newly established Grassroots Democracy Party, said his party supporters are encouraging villagers to prepare for registration. “It’s a good step forward,” he said. “But we have to wait and see how accurate, accountable and efficient the new NEC is.”

Ruling party spokesman Sok Eysan said the CPP is “respecting the NEC’s process.”

“The main thing is that our party will join hands at the local level to educate and encourage people to participate in the voter registration,” he said.

Representatives of the Rescue Party and Grassroots Party said they were concerned that migrant workers would have a hard time registering. Sam Inn said he also wanted to make sure that all persons were involved in the election to ensure it is free and fair.

Cambodia's last election in 2013 was marred by disputes over the results. The opposition alleged widespread voter fraud, a charge denied by the ruling CPP.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Khmer Service.