NEC criticises calls for July national election boycott

The NEC meets last week in preparation for the July 29 national elections. The electoral body issued a statement on Monday rejecting calls for an election boycott. Facebook
The NEC meets last week in preparation for the July 29 national elections. The electoral body issued a statement on Monday rejecting calls for an election boycott. Facebook

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The National Election Committee on Monday criticised those urging voters or monitors to stay away from the July 29 national election, a thinly veiled reference to former opposition leader Sam Rainsy and election monitor Koul Panha.

On Saturday, Rainsy issued a call to Cambodians to stay away from the polls if the Cambodia National Rescue Party were not allowed to contest, and Comfrel head Koul Panha questioned the legitimacy of the July ballot on Thursday while speaking to Radio Free Asia. Comfrel, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, is an election monitor.

Both Rainsy and Panha also said the absence of the largest opposition party, which was forcibly dissolved in November, would call into question the election's legitimacy.

The NEC on Monday issued a letter referring only to “some individuals” who were making appeals for an election boycott and urging observers to stay away as well.

It said election monitors were supposed to be neutral based on NEC law and that the law provides for fines for those preventing people from voting.

“The NEC is calling [these individuals] to stop their activities, appeals to all voters to go to vote and appeals to all local and international monitors to register for monitoring the election,” the statement reads.

NEC spokesman Dim Sovannarom did not provide clarity about whom the statement was referring to and, despite the reference to punitive fines, he said the electoral body will not initiate legal action.

“The NEC is not a political institution," he said. "It is a legal and technical institution."

Rainsy and Panha could not immediately be reached for comment.