While the registration period for political parties to be eligible for July’s national election is set to end on Monday, and only four have been fully approved, the NEC has announced that it will give parties that have started the process another five days to complete it.
According to the NEC, registration closes on May 14 at 5:30pm after having been opened since April 30. As of Sunday, only the ruling CPP, the Cambodian Youth Party, the Cambodia Nationality Party and the Khmer United Party have been granted ballot access.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday, however, publicly predicted that at least 13 or 14 groups would end up competeting in the July 29 election.
The Ministry of Interior confirmed as of Friday that there were 41 groups registered as political parties in the Kingdom. Among them are the Candlelight Party and Human Rights Party, which both have ties to the now dissolved CNRP. Both have said they won’t be taking part in the election.
Hang Puthea, a member and spokesperson of the NEC, said as of Sunday only four parties were approved with the NEC so far.
“Some parties are having a difficult time making certificates or putting money in the national treasury,” Puthea, said on Sunday. “So when the deadline is reached, the NEC will give a number of parties, who have not fulfilled the requirement, five more days.”
Puthea said it was the NEC’s job to facilitate political parties’ participation in the election, while he agreed with the figure mentioned by the premier.
“We expect that at least more than 10 parties will be competing,” he said. “[This] shows their real commitments.”
Sok Eysan, a CPP spokesman, said that he agreed with the NEC’s procedures to permit parties extra time to fulfil the requirements.
“The NEC procedure which has been issued is not illegal. They close the reception on the 14th but complete the application later. It is just the additional things, but the soup has been poured into the noodles already,” he said.
Election expert Yoeurng Sotheara said that while 15 days is enough time for established political parties to register with the NEC, some parties are newly created, which slows them down.
Sam Inn, spokesman for the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP), said that even though his party was not officially approved by the NEC, they had already submitted their documents and he expected them to be approved soon.
Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in an email to The Post yesterday that the NEC should be doing whatever it can to allow all parties to register and compete in line with the principle that people have the right to participate in government and choose their leaders.
“The real problem is the CNRP, which won just short of 44 percent of the votes in last year’s commune elections, has been unfairly and unjustly dissolved by the government. No amount of NEC tinkering to allow more small parties to compete is going to going to restore the credibility of the forthcoming election that was destroyed by banning the CNRP,” he wrote.
“PM Hun Sen had already won the election last year when he decided to arrest Kem Sokha on bogus charges and dissolve the CNRP. The power is already with the CPP, now they are just craving the image of a ‘democratic’ government.
“The real issue for Hun Sen now is ensuring the July election looks good, and apparently he thinks the more political parties competing, the more credible it will look to the outside world,” he added.