Contact: John McAuliff

              1-212-760-9903

             Catharin Dalpino

              1-202-338-0241

355 West 39th Street

   ground floor

New York, NY 10018

director@ffrd.org

www.ffrd.org

Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Press Release

US NGO SENDS 38 VOLUNTEER OBSERVERS

                              TO MONITOR JULY 27 CAMBODIAN ELECTION

For immediate release

 

The Fund for Reconciliation and Development (FRD), a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in New York, is coordinating a team of International Volunteer Observers (IVO)  to assist the July 27 National Assembly elections in Cambodia. 

The team, comprising 38 observers, is headed by Mr. D. Gordon Longmuir, former Ambassador of Canada to Cambodia. It is made up of academics, lawyers, peace activists, development specialists, businessmen, retired diplomats and NGO personnel from the United States, Canada and other countries. Most participants have prior experience in Cambodia.

According to John McAuliff, Executive Director of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, the IVO team will strive to monitor the elections and the vote count that follows with complete impartiality, and avoid any prejudgment of the process or of its results. "We will endeavor to report as accurately as possible the actual experience of Cambodian voters,"  he said.

McAuliff noted that the purpose of sending observers is two-fold.  "Most importantly, Cambodian citizens and political parties, as well as the government, have welcomed the presence of international observers as useful to the conduct of the election.  In addition, future US government assistance to Cambodia will be affected by the reports of American election observers." 

McAuliff added, "Cambodia's elections, past and present, have been the subject of intense scrutiny and partisan debate in the US.   Some critics have already dismissed the validity of election results based on their views of the political and social climate within which the elections have been held.   Others give greater weight to the evolution of democratic practices after Cambodia's rule by the genocidal Khmer Rouge and decade of foreign supported civil war."

McAuliff expressed concern that, "an American organization that is sending observers has been closely identified with one of the contending Cambodian parties, seeing its victory as the way to support democracy.  An influential US Senator allied with this organization has proposed legislation that would reward Cambodia with additional aid if the current government leader is not returned to power, a not very subtle effort to influence voters."
 
Most members of IVO have personally funded the international transportation and local costs of their participation.  The expense of coordinating the IVO team is covered by grants provided to FRD from private American foundations.

FRD is a not-for-profit organization that since 1985 has fostered comprehensive and constructive relations between the United States and Cambodia.  It has worked with ministries and agencies of the Royal Government, as well as international and local NGOs. In 1998, FRD sent thirty observers to the National Assembly elections who worked cooperatively with the Joint International Observer Group (JIOG).  In 2002, FRD's Executive Director and Deputy Director were accredited observers of the commune election in the province of Kampong Som.

Timely reports from IVO observers can be obtained by sending a request to election@ffrd.org.

An article by FRD regional representative Andrew Wells-Dang providing background information on the election can be found at http://www.ffrd.org/indochina/cambodiaelection.htm


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