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Cambodia's general elections ready to kick off on Sunday


19:51, July 26, 2013

PHNOM PENH, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's fifth parliamentary elections are ready to kick off on Sunday, a National Election Committee (NEC) official said Friday.

"We have already prepared for the elections on Sunday," Tep Nytha, NEC's secretary general, said in a press briefing. "Our NEC officials are ready to work at all polling stations and security forces are ready to deploy at those stations in order to ensure security and public order."

Eight political parties will compete for seats in the 123-seat parliament. Among them are two main parties -- the ruling Cambodian People's Party of longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party of recently-pardoned leader Sam Rainsy. Sam Rainsy returned to Cambodia last Friday after living nearly four years in self-imposed exile in France to avoid an 11-year prison sentence on charges of disinformation and destruction of public property. His return came after King Norodom Sihamoni granted him a royal pardon at the request of Hun Sen.

The other six parties include the royalist Funcinpec Party led by Princess Norodom Arun Rasmey, the youngest daughter of late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, the League for Democracy Party, the Cambodian Nationality Party, the Democratic Republic Party, the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party, and the Khmer Economic Development Party.

Some 9.67 million eligible voters will cast their ballots at 19, 009 polling stations nationwide, the NEC said.

Around 40,142 national observers and 291 international monitors have also registered with the NEC for the elections.

The national observers come from 35 associations and non- governmental organizations, while the international observers are from countries including the ASEAN members, Russia, New Zealand, India, South Korea, Australia, Timor-Leste, France, the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as international organizations like European Election Observation Mission. Lt. Gen. Kirt Chantharith, spokesman for the National Police, said about 70,000 security personnel would be deployed during the Election Day to ensure security and public order.

"Three security personnel with a 30-bullet-loaded rifle will be deployed at each polling station," he announced in a recent press conference.

Selling and drinking all types of alcohol are prohibited for two days -- the day before the Election Day and on the Election Day, according to a government's directive.

"To ensure a free, fair, non-violent, and no intimidation election on July 28, traders and vendors must suspend selling alcohol and all Cambodians and foreigners living in Cambodia must stop drinking alcohol in the prohibited days," said the directive signed by Hun Sen.

It said the ban, made in accordance with the election law, is aimed to prevent violence, traffic accidents, offences or social disorder that could arise from alcohol drinking.

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