Japan donates ballot boxes to Cambodia for election

22 Feb 18

Japan has donated over 10,000 ballot boxes, worth $7.5m, for Cambodia’s 2018 election.

This marks the first international aid for the vote after the European Union and the US withdrew their support following the dissolution of the main party last year.

Japan is among the largest funders of the Cambodian election.

It said last month that it would continue to provide electoral aid in the lead up the Senate elections this month and a general election in July, despite rights groups and members of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) urging foreign backers to half funding for the election.

Hidehisa Horinouchi, Japan’s ambassador to Cambodia, said: “These ballot boxes are a symbol of Japan’s aid for democracy in Cambodia and I hope these ballot boxes will provide lasting benefits for holding future elections smoothly.”

Horinouchi added that the boxes would replace the ones given by Tokyo 20 years ago.

The CNRP was dissolved by the country’s supreme court at the request of the prime minister after the arrest of opposition leader Kem Sokha for alleged treason.

In a letter in December, the EU said to the chair of the National Election Committee that it “does not believe there is a possibility of a credible electoral process”.

George Edgar, EU ambassador to Cambodia, wrote that since the commune elections “a series of actions has been taken by the authorities against the main opposition party, which won 44.5% of the vote in the 2013 legislative election and 43.8% in the 2017 local elections”.

The EU had pledged €10m to support the 2017 and 2018 elections, including the donation of election equipment.

The bloc has joined the US, which also pulled its aid, while Russia, South Korea, China and Japan are still offering their support for Cambodia’s vote set for next July.

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