The National Election Committee (NEC) has announced that the upcoming third mandate municipal, provincial, town and district council elections will be held on May 26.
Seven political parties are to participate. Those without councillors eligible to vote were still able to take part in polls that one party president said would “make Cambodian democracy vibrant”.
National Election Committee (NEC) spokesperson Hang Puthea said on Sunday that the elections were important as Cambodia is on the path of democracy, where power comes from citizens who follow the performance of the government.
“The more councils, the better for monitoring the government’s activities,” Puthea said.
He said the parties that obtained the most votes would get positions as heads of the councils, with the power to make important decisions affecting local government. Governors, who are appointed by the government, must consult with council chiefs before any decision is made.
The elections are scheduled to be held following an election campaign lasting a week from last Friday to May 24.
As of Sunday, six parties had begun campaigning – the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, the Cambodian Youth Party, Funcinpec, the Khmer United Party and the Cambodian Nationality Party.
The Khmer Republican Party of Lon Rith, the son of Lon Nol, who overthrew Prince Norodom Sihanouk as prime minister in a coup in 1970, was yet to begin campaigning.
The president of the Khmer Will Party, Kong Monika, said on Sunday that his party had been established for only one year as of Sunday and so did not have any eligible voters.
However, he expressed hope that it would receive votes from members of other parties.
“We have decided to participate in the elections. First, we want multiple parties to participate to make Cambodian democracy vibrant. We do not want democracy to stay quiet after the former Cambodia National Rescue Party was dissolved. We are a new party made up of lovers of democracy.
“We want democracy to be vibrant, so we are participating in the elections despite having no eligible voters. But we are hopeful that though most voters belong to the ruling party, some of them will voice their support for the Khmer Will Party because it has made constructive criticism for the benefit of the nation."
“I think that having a single ruling party is not effective governance, so other parties should support democracy by constructively criticising the government to benefit the Kingdom’s development,” Monika said.
Seng Sokheng, the president of the Cambodia Nationality Party, said similarly that although his party had only 10 voters, it was taking part in the elections to uphold Cambodian democracy.
“We hope that other parties will participate in the democratic process to join the government and contribute to the safeguarding of the nation’s peace and development. So in the days to come, I hope we will see positive results,” he said.
Although some parties did not have any eligible voters, they had decided to take part in the elections in line with Cambodian democracy and the Kingdom’s constitution, he said.
A total of 203 polling stations will open their doors for the elections in Phnom Penh and 24 provincial capitals.
Some 11,500 commune council members across the country are eligible to vote. The elections are to be divided into two. One vote will elect 559 municipal and provincial councillors, while the other will decide 3,555 town and district council seats.
The 11,572 voters taking part are to use two types of ballot – yellow for electing town and district councils, with votes cast in one ballot box. White ballots are to be used for electing municipal and provincial councillors. Votes will be cast in another box.