The Jakarta Post
Cambodians went to the polls on Sunday for their sixth general election to fill 125 lawmaker seats.
Among international observers of the general election from Indonesia, constitutional law expert Jimly Asshiddiqie, said voting went "well and proper", showing "significant progress" in the democratic process of the Southeast Asia country.
However, while the voting procedures were running "well and properly", Jimly did have some notes.
He noted that the witnesses at the polling stations were all from the ruling party, the Cambodian People's Party (CPP). There are 19 other parties in the election, but they are small. Jimly said their lack of institutional capacity might explain the absence of ballot witnesses from those parties at the stations.
The disbandment of the main opposition party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party, had marred the history of democracy in Cambodia, Jimly went on.
Democracy, he said, is not just about elections. "Democracy is not only about formal elections. This is also about the reliability of constitutional courts and how fairly they uphold laws," he told a group of Indonesian journalists in Phnom Penh.
United States-based World Justice Project (WJP) placed Cambodia at second to last place among 113 countries in its Rule of Law Index in late January. The study takes into account several factors, including constraints on government powers, corruption, open government, fundamental rights and access to criminal justice.
Hours into the voting, Cambodia's National Election Committee (NEC) said Sunday that "the number of voters has increased dramatically."
It released a press statement with preliminary figures on number of voters in 13 provinces. Participation in all 13 provinces was said to be above 50 percent, with Kep province at the top with 70.73 percent.
Sunday's election has been deemed a sham by democracy groups, particularly international organizations, following a crackdown by Hun Sen, the world's longest serving prime minister, on critics, including civil society and independent media. (evi)