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Over 23K observers set for 23 election: Comfrel

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Voters cast their ballots during the commune council election in June in Phnom Penh’s Toul Kork district. Hong Menea

Over 23K observers set for 23 election: Comfrel

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL) said it intends to deploy as many observers as possible across the Kingdom during next year’s general election.

COMFREL executive director Kim Chhorn told The Post that the election would mark a political turning point. Several politicians who were once banned from politics had served out the terms of their bans and are now eligible to contest the election.

He said COMFREL deployed nearly 2,000 observers during the 2022 commune council elections. For next July’s general election, it plans to position over 23,000 observers at polling stations across the country.

“We intend to have an observer in every single one of the polling stations. Perhaps it will not be possible, but we are striving to gather the resources we will need. In any case, we will deploy as many observers as is possible,” he added.

“The upcoming national election is more significant than the local elections were, and we, as observers have an important role to play. We will try to recruit as many observers as possible,” said Chhorn.

Last week, COMFREL – and several other civil society organisations involved in election related work – proposed several new measures to the National Election Committee (NEC). Their suggestions included permitting migrant workers to register to vote from the countries they are working in, and that the doors of vote counting rooms not be closed, in order to promote transparency.

In response, the NEC made it clear that what it did was in line with the laws, procedures and rules that apply to Cambodian elections.

NEC deputy secretary-general Som Sorida told The Post that two of the Kingdom’s elections feature universal suffrage – the commune council and parliamentary elections. This meant that almost all citizens over the age of 18 were eligible to vote.

The non-universal elections are the Senate Election – in which only commune councilors and members of the National Assembly may vote – and the election of district, provincial and municipal councils, which only one group may vote in – commune council members.

He added that there were 23,602 polling stations in service for the 2022 Commune Council Elections. This may increase by as many as 9 for July’s general election, depending on the number of voters who successfully register.


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