NEC’s Som Sorida on Election Basics and Critics of the Kingdom’s Voting Process

The 5th term Communal Council election will be held on 5 June 2022. A total of 17 political parties are registered to compete with 84,208 candidates vying for Communal Council seats so far.

The Post sits down with Som Sorida, Deputy Secretary General and Spokesperson for the National Election Committee (NEC) to discuss the basics of the election, for those of our readers unfamiliar with Cambodian civic education, as well as the NEC preparation process. for the election.

What are the municipal council elections?

The election is an election to be held every five years in a free, fair and just manner. Voters vote secretly and directly for the candidates they have chosen, who will then sit on the council of their local commune.

Elections are conducted in accordance with the procedures set out in the Elections Act, Voting Rules and the NEC’s own procedures for Election Day.

Eligible voters are limited to Cambodian citizens aged 18 and over whose names appear on the voters list on election day.

Is the election really that important? Why not just take the plunge and vote in national elections?

The election is very important because you choose your local elected officials whose mission is to serve the general interests of this municipality. They are often the first point of contact for the average person when interacting with their government.

Their role will probably become more important in the future also with the implementation of decentralization policies aimed at promoting development that responds to local needs.

How many terms has the NEC held for election?

Election for the 1st term was held on February 3, 2002. Election has been held regularly every five years thereafter in 2007, 2012 and 2017 in accordance with the principles of Cambodia’s constitutional requirement that it must s to act as a multi-party liberal democracy.

The election in 2022 is therefore the 5th term and it will be held on Sunday, June 5.

What lessons has the NEC learned from the administration of past elections?

After each election, the NEC always records and discusses later the challenges that arise at the various stages of the electoral process, such as the preparation of the electoral list, the registration of political parties and candidates, the actual voting, the counting ballots and the consolidation of the results of the ballot boxes, after which comes the announcement of the results of the elections.

Based on feedback from the meetings to summarize the election results, we are considering appropriate solutions to these challenges that allow the NEC to improve the rules and procedures for the elections with a focus on facilitating administrative workflow and better technical conditions from one election to another.

For the upcoming 5th term election, how has the NEC modernized?

For the 2022 election, the NEC updated the process using information technology to help implement election operations, including:

1. Launch a program of preparation and verification of the list of candidates of the political parties in the running.

2. Use of a new program to issue IDs for voting purposes.

3. We have a program to monitor, verify and summarize election results to increase confidence in the election and ensure maximum effectiveness, efficiency and transparency.

During each election, the NEC always receives criticism from certain political parties and civil society organizations regarding issues related to the lack of transparency or election integrity. What is your general response to this type of criticism?

In fact, in every election, the NEC faces criticism or accusations from some that it is not independent and neutral. This leads to the non-recognition or refusal to recognize election results by some, unfortunately.

However, at the same time, the overwhelming majority of Cambodians praise the NEC as a professional electoral body and applaud our efforts as they understand that our main concern is only that the elections be properly organized, both legally and technically. .

Despite the criticisms, the NEC will continue to fulfill its roles and responsibilities in the organization and administration of elections in accordance with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Law on the Organization and Operation of the NEC and the Law on electoral rules and procedures, as well as all other relevant legal documents in force.

That we strictly adhere to all the above laws is the most important indicator for measuring the independence, neutrality and transparency of the NEC, including the accuracy and legitimacy of election results.

For the 5th term election and the 2023 national election, how can the NEC make the election conditions acceptable to all political parties?

For the 5th term election and the 7th national election in 2023, the NEC will continue its mission in accordance with the provisions of the law.

We will also try to strengthen partnerships and cooperation with all stakeholders while promoting and encouraging honest participation in the electoral process of political parties, associations, civil society organizations and authorities at all levels and in all the sectors concerned.

Finally, do you have anything else to add about the upcoming elections, the NEC or the elections in general?

First, I would like to remind people of the basic rules for voting. To be able to participate in the election, Cambodian citizens must register on the official electoral list from 2021 and be in possession of a valid Cambodian identity card or identity document for the election. ‘election.

Those of you who are eligible to vote in the elections, please participate and vote for your selection for your local council and help promote local development in your local community.

At the same time, the NEC calls on all stakeholders to cooperate by fulfilling their respective roles with a strong sense of responsibility when offered opportunities for cooperation, participation and honest support for the work of the NEC.

The presence of political parties, NGOs, national and international journalists – as well as the observations of the general public – are all indispensable factors in determining the success of the implementation of our electoral laws and the maintenance of our liberal multi-party democracy in the Cambodia. .

Furthermore, it is the duty of the army, police and authorities at all levels to ensure that the electoral process is peaceful and safe, with good public order and without violence or the threat of violence.

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