Situation Room Seeks Meeting With Minister

Two key members of the election monitoring group dubbed the Situation Room are seeking a meeting with Interior Minister Sar Kheng to discuss a recent government order that would bar the NGO consortium from continuing its work for next year’s general election.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, during the CPP’s 66th anniversary celebrations on June 28, accused the NGO collective of violating the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations and fomenting a “color revolution.”

Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, takes questions about Sunday’s commune elections in June at a news conference in Phnom Penh.
(Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told government-affiliated Fresh News on Thursday that Mr. Kheng had agreed to the meeting and would assign ministry officials to meet with representatives of the NGOs, though no specific date was announced.

General Sopheak refused to discuss the meeting by telephone and did not immediately respond to questions sent by text, as he requested.

Kim Chhorn, senior program coordinator for independent election monitor Comfrel, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said his group and Nicfec, the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, had sent a letter on Tuesday to Mr. Kheng on behalf of 24 local NGOs that had participated in the Situation Room in the run-up to the June 4 commune elections.

The consortium had criticized the election for being less than free and fair, citing, among other things, political suppression of the opposition and threats of violence from ruling party leaders.

Mr. Chhorn, of Comfrel, said the NGOs want an opportunity to discuss their role in observing the election, which is allowed by law.

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