Voter Registration Opens for 2012 Commune Elections

The registration of voters began at 1,633 commune offices across the country yesterday ahead of the 2012 commune elections, but there were disruptions reported in Kampot prov­­ince after three districts flooded, according to Tep Nytha, secretary-general of the National Election Committee.

“Fifteen communes in Kompong Trach, Dang Tong and Banteay Meas districts flooded [yesterday], so Commune Election Committee of­­ficials moved the registration operations to dry areas,” Mr Nytha said.

Salos Sen, CPP lawmaker in Kam­pot, said turnout had been good in Toek Chhou district and he was “unaware” of the flooding.

In Phnom Penh’s Phsar Doeum Thkov commune office in Cham­kar Mon district, calls to register blared out of a loudspeaker. Reg­istration opened at 7 am, but by 11 pm, only four people had registered, clerks said.

By phone from Battam­bang City yesterday, SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua said the party had fanned out across the province with opposition party “representatives and intervention teams in each of the communes and monitoring teams in each of the districts.”

“I am encouraged, because young people are coming out to register in the city,” Ms Sochua said.

Ms Sochua stressed that the NEC’s role was to “promote and protect the right to vote,” but needed to offer photo services for poor people without identification cards.

Mr Nytha said the NEC had done so in the past, but that it had been overwhelmed and now did not have enough money in its budget. He said 1,644 extra clerks had been employed for the registration period and to review the voter lists, and they would be paid $3 per day.

Sok Pitour, a monitoring officer for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said registration in the election process was crucial. The committee was con­­cerned by the role of local auth­or­ities, in­cluding com­mune chiefs and village chiefs, who were en­gaged in the registration process but were also members of the ruling party, he said via e-mail. Registration closes Oct 15.

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