National Election Committee
Submitted to the Course
Cambodian Government and Politics
Professor: Chea Thireak
Researched and Prepared by
Miss. Meng Daneth, Mr. Chhun Mony Oudum,
Mr. Nang Yanna, Vulnerable Hum Sothea.
Academic Year 2011
I. Definition...................... Page3
II. The Structure of the National Election Committee............. Page4
III. NEC Members...................... Page5
IV. Duties and Responsibilities of NEC....................... Page6
V. Voter Registration.............................. Page9
VI. Political Parties' Registration....................... Page9
VII. Elections........................... Page10
VIII. Media Monitoring......................... Page12
IX. Civic Education............................... Page12
X. Principles..................................... Page13
XI. Legal Framework.......................... Page14
XII. Electoral Conduct............................. Page14
Conclusion and Recommendation................................................................................................. Page17
National Election Committee of Cambodia
Elections are nothing new in Cambodia, but genuinely competitive ones have been a rarity. Under Cambodia’s traditional monarchies, the king was elected by a group of notables. Once chosen at the beginning of his reign, however, the king held office for life. The governance was also autocratic.
During the later years of French colonial rule in the 1940s and 1950s, several elections were contested and were arguably representative of the voters’ will, resulting in national assemblies which included both a ruling party and a substantial opposition. Following Cambodian independence in 1953, King Norodom Sihanouk abdicated and became Head of State. Political power was increasingly concentrated in his hands. Political parties were abolished in favour of a single political movement, the Sangkum Reastr Niyum, usually translated as the People’s Socialist Community, with Prince Sihanouk at its head. The government became more authoritarian, and elections lost their democratic character. Despite these setbacks for democracy, many older Cambodians still fondly remember Prince Sihanouk’s rule as a golden era of peace and prosperity.
By the late 1960s, Cambodia had entered a period of cataclysmic political change. The country became embroiled in the Vietnam War, its territory partially occupied by the Vietnamese Communist forces, and border areas bombed and invaded by the United States and South Vietnamese military. In 1970, Prince Sihanouk, while travelling abroad, was overthrown in a coup and replaced by the Khmer Republic under General Lon Nol. The Khmer Republic held its own election which, like its predecessors, was manipulated in favour of the incumbent regime. In order to keep Cambodia out of the Vietnam War, Lon Nol used the army to attack the occupying Vietnamese forces head-on and was roundly beaten. His government also faced an indigenous Cambodian Communist insurgency, and then the Khmer Rouge took over much of the countryside, encircled the capital, Phnom Penh, and finally seized power in April 1975.
The Khmer Rouge have become infamous for the exceptional brutality of their regime, resulting in the deaths of one million or more Cambodians, one-sixth of the population, during less than four years of mad misrule. Yet even the Khmer Rouge staged an election. It was controlled by the regime and without democratic significance, serving only as domestic and international propaganda. After a series of border clashes, the military forces of Vietnam, unified under Communist rule since 1975, invaded Cambodia at the end of 1978 and occupied the country within a few weeks. The Vietnamese installed a Cambodian government, the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, later renamed the State of Cambodia, whose leaders were mostly ex-Khmer Rouge who had fled to Vietnam during Khmer Rouge internal purges. Soviet-style national elections were conducted in 1981, with a predictable win for the ruling Communist Party against no genuine opposition. Vietnamese military forces remained in Cambodia until 1989 when the collapsing Soviet Union could no longer subsidize its client states in Vietnam and Cambodia. Throughout the Vietnamese occupation and beyond, the Cambodian government was under guerrilla attack by remnants of the Khmer Rouge and non-Communist resistance forces.
In 1993, Cambodia’s first democratic elections were managed by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). In subsequent elections, although donor assistance continued to be important, Cambodians took more responsibility. Today, as its electoral institutions develop a greater administrative capacity, Cambodia does not need as much support from donors on the technical aspects of conducting elections. The country has also made significant advances in creating political space for dialogue on political issues. For an election to meet international standards, freedoms of speech, association and assembly are essential. While the political environment has improved in recent years, these essential freedoms are still restricted. When these liberties are respected, elections can be a primary tool for fostering expanded political participation and for permitting political parties and civic groups to mobilize supporters and share their platforms with the public.
The National Election Committee is an independent and neutral organization that has the jurisdiction to administer the universal elections of the National Assembly Members, of the Commune/Sangkat Councils and the indirect elections of the Senate and of the Capital City, Provinces, Municipalities, Districts and Khans Councils. The National Election Committee and the Election Commission at all levels shall work based on neutrality and impartiality.
To fulfill its mandate the organization of the NEC has electoral bodies in the whole country at all administrative levels, provincials, municipal and communal. For each of these divisions each body is responsible of the electoral administration. As well, the NEC is in charge of the planning, the organization, and the administration of all elections, that includes the announcement of the elections results, the production and dissemination of civic education material, media monitoring, the registration of voters and political parties. Finally the NEC is in charge of complains and appeals of the elections.
It would have been impossible to accomplish all these obligations without having a structure well organized, oiled, that manages the elections at all level in the country. The NEC has delegated its responsibilities at the Provincial Election Commission that takes care of the provincial administration of the elections and relay the information from the NEC to the municipals and communal elections commissions. Part also of their responsibilities is to make sure that all directives, procedures and rules of the electoral law are implemented according to the time frame put in place by the NEC.
The NEC is composed by nine members one President, one Vice President and seven members. In their duties, the NEC is assisted by one secretary General and two vice secretaries. The NEC has five departments, administration, finances, operations, training Public Information Bureau (PIB) and complain and appeals that are under the direct supervision of the Secretary General. The NEC employs NEC officials and contracted only for the electoral periods additional personnel. The PEC are in place in all 24 administrative divisions (provinces and PP), comprises of one to two permanent member for each PEC and each PEC is supported by a number that varies according to the type of elections during the electoral periods. The municipals and registration committee are in place only during electoral and registration periods.
II-The Structure of the National Election Committee
The National Election Committee composed of eleven members namely one chairman, one deputy chairman, four representatives of political parties in the National Assembly (FUNCINPEC, CPP, BLDP and MOULINAKA), two representatives of people, one representative of non-governmental organizations in Cambodia, one representative of the Interior Ministry.
At the provincial level, the NEC established 23 provincial and municipal Election Commissions composed of 1017 officials. At the communal level, there are 1595 Communal Election Commissions with 12,760 officials. The NEC will set up 11,699 polling stations with the help of 60.000 officials recruited by the NEC.
The total number of the NEC officials across the country is 74,528. In addition, there are 95,000 security and military personnel of the Ministries of Interior and National Defense being placed at the disposal of the NEC to guarantee the safety and the election process.
H.E. Im Suosdey: Chairperson of the NEC
DR. SIN CHUM BO: Vice Chairperson of the NEC
H.E. EM SOPHATH: Member of the NEC
H.E. MAO SOPHIRITH: Member of the NEC
H.E. SOM CHANDYNA: Member of the NEC
H.E. TEP NYTHA: Secretary General of the NEC
Mr. SOKOLAC TIPOR: Deputy Secretary General of the NEC
Mr. La Davuth: Deputy Secretary General of the NEC
IV- DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF NEC
The National Election Committee takes full responsibility in planning, organizing and managing the elections nationwide. The National Election Committee assumes full authority in implementing its tasks. Powers, rights and responsibilities in relation to planning, organizing, managing and supervising the election process are as described below:
According to the Amended Law of Law on the Elections of the Commune/Sangkat Councils Article 10 (New):
The National Election Committee shall have powers, functions and duties to:
The National Election Committee shall have powers, functions and duties to:
The powers, functions, and duties prescribed in Article 7 (new), Article 8 (new), Article 9 (new), and Article 10 (new) of this law shall be added to those assigned by or entrusted to the NEC by the Law on Elections of Members of the National Assembly.
The NEC is composed by nine members a Khmer dignitary as Chairperson, Khmer dignitary as Vice Chairperson and seven Khmer dignitary as members.
Their duties are to administer the elections. The Chairperson, the Deputy Chairperson and the members of the National Election Committee are appointed by the Royal decree at least seven (7) months before the election, in accordance with the proposal of the Council of Ministers and after approval from the National Assembly by absolute majority vote. The Chairperson, the Deputy Chairperson and Members of the National Election Committee must take an oath at the Royal Palace before taking their functions. The NEC, the PEC and all the local commissions work with impartiality and neutrality.
The NEC has the responsibility to administer the universal elections of the National Assembly Members, of the Commune/Sangkat Councils and the indirect elections of the Senate and of the Capital City, Provinces, Municipalities, Districts and Khans Councils. Has the power to nominate the provincial, the municipal, communal/sangkat commissions and the polling station commissions. The NEC has the right to issue rules, directives and procedures in the framework of the existing legislation.
The National Election Committee takes full responsibility in planning, organizing and managing the elections nationwide. Depending of the planning, the organization, the administration and the supervision of the categories of elections the National Election Committee assumes full authority in implementing its tasks. Powers, rights and responsibilities in relation to planning, organizing, managing and supervising the election process are the following: registration of voters, registration of political parties and their candidates, civic education, media monitoring, and complains and appeals that deals with all related disputes concerning the elections results.
Voter registration is one of the most crucial phases of the electoral process as it is at this period that the citizens get the chance to register in the elections register and be able to exercise their rights on Election Day. Of course, a review period is schedule to allow the correction of registration data in the voter register. In case a voter does not fulfill the legal obligations the NEC has the right to temporarily suspend his from electoral roll, or even to deleted him from the register in case of double registration.
According to the Law on the Elections of the National Assembly, the period of reviewing the list of voters and voter registration, and providing validity to the voter lists shall begin from the 1st of October to 31st of December every year.
The registration process does not involve the registration of the whole electorate. Voters, who are already registered in the current electoral list, do not need to register again. Only those who are not in the current list need to register. From now on, the Commune Council is responsible for the maintenance of a permanent list of registered voters, which is accessible to the public at the Commune office. This permanent list of registered voters will constitute the basis for the future electoral list.
In order to register, Khmer citizens need to have documents to prove their identity, residence, age and citizenship. When the applicant lacks documentation, he/she can nevertheless get registered by producing two witnesses to testify him/her.
To update and maintain a permanent list of registered voters, the National Election Committee has a computer database centre to process the data and produce the voter register and the polling stations lists. Equipped with 105 PC using the database software Oracle, up to 164 staff’s work at the database computer centre during the voter registration process.
VI -political parties' registration
To participate at the electoral competition, the political parties need to register for the elections. This period is of course, after the completion of the voter’s registration. The political party registration is mandatory in case a political party wish to participate in the elections. Only once register and approved the political parties can submit their candidates for approval. If political parties fail to register or it does not fulfill the criteria, it won’t be able to participate in all the related elections activities, registration of the candidates, electoral campaign and of course the scrutiny.
The NEC has the right to receive and decide the registration of the political parties, of their candidates to run for office, to restore the registration of a party but also can delete or restore the registration of a candidate. Finally, the NEC verifies the political parties and candidates revenues and expenses done during the electoral campaign.
A lottery is organized to determine the order on the ballot paper and carried out by monks. At the event media, political parties and observers are invited to observe the process. Once the order is determine the results are announce to the public opinion and posted on the NEC website.
The National Election Committee shall be responsible for planning, organizing and managing the election in the whole country. The National Election Committee shall have full right to implement its duties. Rights, authority, duties and responsibilities in connection with the planning, organization, management, and supervision of the election are as follows:
Establishing a committee to destroy the ballot papers used for each election the National Assembly. The preconditions to successfully destroy the ballot is first to secure them for 4 years after the elections. The destruction is carried out in front of the political parties that have seats at the National assembly, observers and media representatives.
The media law and some provisions of the electoral law, specifically the equal access to the media, administer electronics and printed media. Additionally the private and the state own media are regulated by a media code of conduct during the electoral period that makes them accountable of their publications or broadcasting material.
To insure that media comply with all the legal provisions the NEC monitors the TV channels, an important sample of 30 radio stations through the country and a printed media panel. In case one of the printed or broadcast media breach one of the provisions of the legislative framework, the NEC will meet and will take a decision according to the importance of the breaches. The media monitoring methodology for the media analysis is quantitative and qualitative but does not include anymore the pie charts findings.
Voter education is one of the priorities of the NEC, aim to inform the public about the electoral process and the exercise of their rights during the elections.
In the public education campaign, the Training and Voter Education Department put emphasis on six topics: to encourage the citizens to vote, to inform them how to prepare the relevant documents on a day, to be able to vote, to encourage them to make their own choice, to highlight the secrecy of vote, to prevent the violence during the election process and to prohibit all kinds of weapons inside the polling stations and at the ballot counting centers.
In its efforts to educate the public about the elections, the NEC produced posters, illustrated leaflets, banners and public announcements to be distributed to the communes and PEC for dissemination and for posting in the public areas such as schools, markets, pagodas, commune offices. Short stories, songs and video spots have been broadcasted in radios and TV channels in Phnom Penh and in the provinces.
To reach the audiences in the remote areas, the civic education is carried out by the mobile team from one village to another by loudspeakers by playing the audiocassettes. To enable the public to access to more information about the election, the Provincial Electoral Commission of Sihanouk province set up an information center where people can search or copy information they need.
The education civic of the ethnic minority has been done through the students and interpreters who translate the leaflets or posters in the ethnic language for their parents or the population.
Depending of the type of elections, universal or indirect scrutiny and the funding, the civic education materials varies accordingly and is uneven from one election to another. The NEC also produced various materials for voter education on the process of voter registration and on awareness against violence and intimidation and distributed to the provinces, in the state-own and private media.
Free and fair elections are an essential part of democracy. Elections cannot be free and fair without the right to campaign. Everyone has this right, and the right to present their political opinions. But each person’s right to campaign means supporting the same freedom for everyone else. Cambodia’s political parties endorse the Principles of Electoral Conduct set out below. These reflect international standards, and do not replace any (NEC) Regulations and Procedures. They are part of the law on election of members of the National Assembly and amendment to this law, and seek to express the core of democratic elections, while also dealing with impressions reported by the parties and issues which have previously arisen in Cambodia. Observance of these Principles would help bring about free and fair – and internationally-approved – elections in the Kingdom.
All party members, candidates and citizens are equally subject to the law. However, the activities of government and party must clearly be separate. Thus:
Parties, candidates, and members may not use public funds or resources (e.g. offices, vehicles, etc.) to serve their own party interest. On the other hand, they must fulfill their public responsibilities until they leave office.
Publicly-funded broadcasting stations must provide fair and equitable access for the parties. They will ensure accuracy and impartiality in reporting, as well as political balance in editorial decisions such as selection, placing and comment on news items. The parties likewise agree to take all available steps to secure accuracy, impartiality, and balance on the part of privately-owned media.
Parties, candidates, and members will fully cooperate with, and provide all support to, the NEC and its subordinate bodies. It is most important that the Committee, and those bodies, function with neutrality, impartiality and transparency.
Public employees, authorities at all levels, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, National Police, and court officials have a limited right to campaign as set out in the election law, in the Electoral Regulations and Procedures. As regards the police and prosecuting authorities, they must ensure that their members behave in a non-partisan way and in strict compliance with the law.
Upon a complaint being made the NEC may, if appropriate, send the matter to the proper authorities for possible disciplinary action against perpetrators and to deter future recurrence.
Conclusion and Recommendation
“Regardless of the penalties as stipulated in the Electoral Law, the NEC may cancel the accreditation of and delegate its power to the Election commission at a lower level to expel from its headquarter or other election offices any observation organization or observer at its discretion, if the commission has found that the individual organization or observer have:
1. failed to comply with the directives and instruction of any competent election authority
2. publicly demonstrated bias in favor of any candidate or political party
3. disrupted or hindered the performance of the duty of an election official
4. violated this code of conduct (Code of Conduct for Observers).”