Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sparring as PM announces date for national elections

Sparring as PM announces date for national elections

A man has his thumbprint scanned during a voter registration trial in Phnom Penh last year.
A man has his thumbprint scanned during a voter registration trial in Phnom Penh last year. Hong Menea

Sparring as PM announces date for national elections

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday revealed a late July date for the 2018 national election while urging authorities to speed up the process of registering more than 2 million people still lacking an ID card ahead of next year’s commune elections.

Hun Sen told 2,000 graduates at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh the national poll would take place on July 22, 2018. He also demanded that the new, electronic voter lists be transparent, lest his opposition opponents be given a reason to reject the election results.

Referring to 2013’s contested election, the prime minister said the problem of about 1.5 million names missing from the voting register had only partially been resolved in the three years since, with just 200,000 of those now on the rolls.

“All actors can start preparing and hope there is no reason to reject the result of the election and no reason to accuse us of losing millions of names from voter lists … We all have to ensure transparency and guarantee a procedure of democracy,” he said. But opposition leader Sam Rainsy has already begun to question the credibility of the freshly announced elections.

In a statement last night, Rainsy said the announcement was a diversion “from what the Hun Sen government has been actively doing over the last 12 months in order to manipulate those elections in a way to secure victory for the ruling CPP”.

He said Hun Sen was “jeopardising the whole election process” by using the judicial system to quash critics and unbalance the National Election Committee (NEC), having imprisoned the body’s deputy secretary Ny Chakrya and preparing to prosecute opposition appointee Rong Chhun.

“The current political repression – and with it the climate of fear and intimidation – must first be put to an end before anybody can talk about free and fair elections.”

NEC spokesperson Hang Puthea yesterday confirmed the body is due to receive 2,400 computers, along with equipment for fingerprint scans, cameras and power banks, by July 15 this year from the EU.

That means registration for the commune elections could begin on September 1, after programs have been installed on each computer and 7,000 staff hired and trained, he said.

Kim Chhorn, senior program coordinator at election watchdog Comfrel, yesterday expressed concerns about the timing of the registration period. “My concern is the voter registration could take a long time – it could take up to five and a half months,” he said.

“It could be very difficult for the NEC to manage if the time between the registration period and election day is constrained.” But he added that the new electronic registration system – funded by Japan and the EU – would eliminate “ghost voters” or a doubling up of names.

Additional reporting by Bun Sengkong and Erin Handley

MOST VIEWED

  • South Korea’s first lady brings hope to ill boy

    South Korea’s first lady Kim Keon-hee – wife of current president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol – met with a 14-year-boy with congenital heart disease during her trip to the Kingdom for the ASEAN Summit. After their meeting it was announced that the

  • Hun Sen gets Covid, shuns G20, APEC summits

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has tested positive for Covid-19 in Indonesia, where he is slated to attend the G20 summit in his capacity of the ASEAN chair. In a social media post addressing the Cambodian public, he said: “Before leaving Cambodia, I always

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol