Transparency International has pledged a rapid assessment of potential irregularities in Sunday’s commune elections by sending 1,100 observers across Cambodia—including, if needed, by boat and helicopter.
At a news conference in Phnom Penh on Monday, Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said USAID had donated nearly $200,000 to fund the Election Day operations, in which a sample of 410 polling stations out of 22,148 would be observed.
The plan was to produce a report more quickly than other organizations carrying out comprehensive assessments, Mr. Kol said.
The observers would be deployed to “islands, remote areas—they might need to fly by helicopter…they might take the boat to the islands,” he said.
Mr. Kol said the 1,100 observers had been subject to extensive interviews and background checks to ensure they were not aligned with any political party. The anti-corruption NGO also monitored Cambodia’s elections in 2013.
Kim Chhorn, senior program coordinator for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (Comfrel), which has registered about 15,000 observers, said Comfrel would brief the public on some of their findings on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Its final report, however, would not be available for another two months after the vote, he said.
Mr. Chhorn said it was crucial to have someone at all polling stations, or at least a person shared between two polling stations.
“If we have no proof—if we do not have the real picture, the real photo, at the polling station that had the problem…we cannot show that it happened,” he said. “Comfrel tries to show all the evidence.”
© 2017, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.