The National Election Committee (NEC) will consider requesting support from France as it prepares to administer the July national election, its senior official said, noting that the French counterparts want to see the poll take place in a manner acceptable to all parties and in accordance with the laws in force.
NEC chairman Prach Chan led a delegation of NEC members and senior officials from the Ministry of Interior on a March 13-19 visit to France. The visit aimed to exchange experience with French election officials, and gain more insight into the French model.
NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport upon his return that the electoral system in France is dissimilar to that of the Kingdom.
“France has been holding democratic elections since the 19th century, and has had a lot of time to streamline the process. They have also introduced a lot of modern technology,” he said.
He said the delegation had met with the French Ministry of Interior, which is responsible for running the elections. In Cambodia, the NEC – an independent body – conducts the work. The French ministry, he noted, is comprised of city, provincial and commune authorities, each of which works to run the different levels of the electoral process.
He added that they had also met with the state and constitutional councils, who are responsible for addressing electoral complaints. They also held discussions with the legislative institutions which administer electoral campaigns.
“We attended several meetings and as a result, gained a clearer understanding of the electoral process in France,” he said.
“We also briefed them on our system. They now have a very clear understanding of how we conduct our elections, and we have built a strong relationship with our French counterparts. We get along and understand one another very well,” he added.
He quoted the French side as saying that they want to see Cambodia hold a free and fair election, as defined in the Kingdom’s law, and had offered their assistance.
Nytha said the NEC chief thanked the French officials for their offer of support, and informed them about the commune council elections held on June 5 last year and contested by 17 political parties, nine of whom had won seats.
“[Chan] also invited his French counterparts to observe the upcoming July election. We will consider asking for their assistance, as the election is fast approaching,” he said.
According to a March 17 social media post by the French embassy in Phnom Penh, EU representatives from Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Slovakia had visited Kampong Thom province to learn about the electoral process.
The delegates met for talks with the representatives from the NEC, as well as from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), the Candlelight Party (CP) and FUNCINPEC to gain a clearer understanding of the forthcoming election.
Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL) observer Korn Savang said that in general, it is not a bad idea to exchange experiences with other countries.
“Examining what other countries are doing to strengthen their democratic principles is always a good idea. Studying their processes so that we can decide how we can integrate them into our own is a wise course of action,” he said.