CNRP says reg­is­tra­tion drive halted by of­fi­cials

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Ye­se­nia Amaro

OP­PO­SI­TION of­fi­cials in Bat­tam­bang town yes­ter­day said they have tem­po­rar­ily halted a voter reg­is­tra­tion ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign after be­ing for­bid­den from en­gag­ing in such ac­tiv­i­ties by lo­cal of­fi­cials.

Chea Chiv, head of the Cam­bo­dia National Res­cue Party ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee in Bat­tam­bang prov­ince, said two weeks ago Bat­tam­bang town and Ek Ph­nom dis­trict gover­nors had or­dered the op­po­si­tion to stop spread­ing voter reg­is­tra­tion in­for­ma­tion. “Right now, we rec­on­ciled al­ready, how­ever, our CNRP com­mit­tee in Bat­tam­bang de­cided to tem­po­rar­ily stop these ac­tiv­i­ties . . . in or­der to avoid con­fronta­tion with au­thor­i­ties,” he said.

The ac­tiv­i­ties were only banned in CNRP-held com­munes, with sim­i­lar ac­tiv­i­ties in Cam­bo­dia Peo­ple’s Par­ty­con­trolled lo­cales con­tin­u­ing un­fet­tered, he added.

Bat­tam­bang Town Gover­nor Sieng Emvunsy yes­ter­day de­nied hav­ing banned the op­po­si­tion from ed­u­cat­ing cit­i­zens, point­ing in­stead to what he said was dys­func­tion at the reg­is­tra­tion sta­tion run by O’Char’s CNRP Com­mune Chief Sin Rozeth – who has re­peat­edly faced push­back from rul­ing party of­fi­cials since tak­ing of­fice – and her com­mune clerk.

“The is­sue was caused by the com­mune clerk com­ing to work late and caus­ing peo­ple who had gone to reg­is­ter to feel an­gry,” Emvunsy said, with­out ad­dress­ing the topic of the ed­u­ca­tional cam­paign.

Chiv, how­ever, main­tained the ed­u­ca­tional cam­paign had been scut­tled in O’Char by Emvunsy and the com­mune clerk.

The clerk could not be reached for com­ment.

Hang Puthea, spokesman for the National Elec­tion Com­mit­tee, said “right now, all po­lit­i­cal par­ties have the right to ed­u­cate peo­ple, but only for voter reg­is­tra­tion”, but added the NEC had no in­for­ma­tion about this case.

Sam Kuntheamy, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of elec­tion mon­i­tor Nicfec, also stressed par­ties’ right to share in­for­ma­tion with vot­ers, which has been lack­ing.

“If any­one bans them, they are wrong,” he said, call­ing on the CNRP to com­plain to the Pro­vin­cial Elec­tion Com­mit­tee.

Voter reg­is­tra­tion na­tion­wide has been slug­gish, with Kuntheamy say­ing that only about 20 per­cent of the es­ti­mated 1.6 mil­lion peo­ple el­i­gi­ble to reg­is­ter to vote have done so.

He pointed to a re­cent re­port from his ob­servers at­tribut­ing the low num­bers to “lim­ited” voter reg­is­tra­tion in­for­ma­tion after the shut­ter­ing of sev­eral ra­dio sta­tions, re­cent heavy rains and the tense po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, which has “dis­cour­aged” some peo­ple. “It’s very con­cern­ing,” he said.

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