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Australian observers for Cambodian elections.



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MEDIA RELEASE

 

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

ALEXANDER DOWNER

 

FA84

20 June 1998

 

AUSTRALIAN OBSERVERS FOR CAMBODIAN ELECTIONS

 

Australia is pleased to announce that it will contribute 20 short-term and two long-term observers to the UN-coordinated international election observer exercise in Cambodia following today’s meeting between the ASEAN Troika and the Friends of Cambodia in Bangkok.

 

The meeting was an important step in diplomatic efforts on the part of the international community toward seeing the restoration of peace and stability in Cambodia through the holding of national elections.

 

Today’s meeting sends a clear and unified message to Cambodia that the elections scheduled for 26 July must be free, fair and credible. The Friends of Cambodia Communiqué makes it clear that the Cambodian Government must take further steps to protect the integrity of the election process. The people of Cambodia must be able to express their will without fear or intimidation.

 

Australia’s contribution to the international observer exercise adds to the considerable support we have already offered to the Cambodian electoral process.

 

The long-term observers have already been deployed to Phnom Penh, and the short-term observers will arrive in mid-July after training in Australia. The short-term observer contingent will include up to six serving federal parliamentarians from the Coalition, Labor Party and the Australian Democrats.

 

While recognizing positive developments in the electoral preparations, the Australia Government believes that further vigilance is required in order to address serious concerns about the electoral process.

 

With this in mind, the parties to the meeting called on the Cambodian Government to improve media access for the opposition, including equal electronic coverage, to ensure the integrity and secrecy of the voting and the ballot count, and to address on-going human rights concerns, in particular the extra-judicial political killings which have occurred since the coalition Government in Phnom Penh collapsed in July last year.

 

The meeting recognised that the registration of over 90 per cent of the 5.64 million eligible voters in Cambodia is a positive development and that general progress had been made.

 

Australia also joined others at the meeting in urging the Cambodian Government to fulfil its responsibilities as to the safety and security of the election observers, and allow them to do their work unhindered through all phases of the electoral process.

 

Bangkok

 

Further information: Innes Willox 0411 414 695

 

 

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