Campaign prepares disadvantaged Cambodians for election
Phnom Penh – A voter education campaign is underway in Cambodia to help people with disability and indigenous people to be eligible to vote in the new general election slated for July next year.
The campaign targets these groups of Cambodian citizens in 17 provinces: Kandal, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampot, Svay Rieng, Kampong Cham, Kratie, Stoeung Treng, Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin, Battambang and Pursat.
- Educational campaign about election will take place in 17 provinces.
The new election is scheduled to take place 28 July 2013 to choose new lower house of parliament, National Assembly, for another five-year term. Preparing for the poll, the commune/sangkat offices across the country are conducting verification of voter lists and registering new voters until 12 October.
As part of its work to promote democratic governance in Cambodia, United Nations Development Programme has teamed up with two non-governmental organizations in a series of awareness-raising activities aimed at empowering indigenous people and people with disability to exercise their rights to vote.
Those activities kicked off on 27 August – with focus on voter registration period – and will run until July next year. They include training on importance of voter registration to focal persons who themselves are people with disability. They then will roll out more training sessions for other people with disability in some 60 communes across Cambodia.
In provinces home to Cambodian indigenous people, public forums are also held to increase their awareness and participation in voter registration process.
Despite progress in improving opportunities for them, people with disability continue to face challenges in using their potentials to contribute to socio-economic and political development of the country. Lack of access to education, health, social services, employment and political participation is among the challenges that are also shared by the indigenous people.
“Every vote counts. General election happens only once every five years. It is a sacred opportunity to make one’s voice heard,” said Socheath Heng, manager of UNDP’s Strengthening Democracy Programme that oversees the current campaign.
“Considering the challenges they still face in their lives, it is important to assist indigenous people and people with disability to be prepared to cast their ballots so that they will not miss this chance to wait for another five years,” he added.
Leading the civic education campaign are Khmer Youth Association (KYA) and the CDPO, a group advocating for the rights and wellbeing of Cambodians with disability. Some 9,200 indigenous people and 1,800 people with disability are expected to benefit from this campaign.