Origins and Organization
Comfrel has its origins in the Task Force on Cambodia, which came together to provide an independent, non-partisan domestic monitoring team for the May 1993 UNTAC elections and worked in close collaboration with the relevant international organisations throughout Cambodia in order to monitor the electoral process, before, during and after polling day. In 1995, a decision was made to establish Comfrel as a permanent election monitoring organisation.
In 1997, Comfrel registered with the Ministry of Interior and thereafter was recognised by the National Election Committee (NEC) as one of three organisations to be given priority in observing the 1998 National Assembly election.
Comfrel has a Board of Directors, comprising 12 Cambodian NGOs, which supervises the work of the Central Office Executive Committee, the key unit that plans and organises the implementation of Comfrel's programmes. The Central Office maintains communications and supplies training and materials for Comfrel's network in the provinces, where the Provincial Executive Groups, comprising up to five persons, organises the work of the District Contact Persons and Commune Activists and provide training with assistance from the Central Office.
The day-to-day affairs of accounting and financial management are handled by a fulltime Financial Officer, using open and transparent internationally-accepted financial procedures with financial records audited after the end of each fiscal year.
During the 1998 National Assembly election, Comfrel's network extended to the village level nation-wide, with 11,000 volunteer observers covering almost 95% of polling stations. Comfrel is currently revamping its network and has plans for added capacity building in advance of the planned commune/sangkat council elections.
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COMFREL mission is to help to create an informed and favourable climate 1)- for free and fair elections through lobbying and advocacy for a suitable legal framework, education to inform voters of their rights and monitoring activities that both discourage irregularities and provide comprehensive monitoring data to enable an objective, non-partisan assessment of the election process, and 2)- for meaningfulness of post elections through education and public forums to encourage citizens to participate in politics and decision-making, advocacy/lobby for electoral reforms that increase accountability of elected officials and provide comprehensive monitoring data to enable an objective, non-partisan assessment of the fulfillment of political platform and performance of elected officials.
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1-Promote senate elections and strengthen its role and functions
- Effective recommendations contributed to better senate election laws by the end of 2005,
- Recommendations for amendment of the constitution and its internal regulations by 2006.
- Increased debate/discussion related to senate elections and its role and functions
2-Promote village chief elections through direct and simple system
- Effective recommendations for government platforms and policy and legal framework on improvement of the role of village chief by 2005
- Effective recommendations for better legal framework on village chief selections by 2006
- Increased debate/discussion related to senate elections and its role and functions by 2006
3-Strengthen accountability of national assembly members and commune council ( elected officials)
- Effective recommendations to proposed amendment on national election laws and commune council laws adopted in response to election reforms by 2006
- Improvement to commune council regulations and policies adopted in response to COMFREL’s recommendations by 2006.
- Changes attitudes/behaviors of legislators, political party leaders and donors toward the political/electoral reforms by 2006.
- Establishment of monitoring team and production of regular reports on he performance of national assembly member and fulfillment of government platforms.
- Establishment of 210 local watchdogs at commune by October 2006 and production of regular reports on the performance of commune council.
- Increase 20% people awareness of the role and function of elected officials between 2003 and 2007.
4- Promote citizen’s rights to participation in politics and decision making (local democracy)
- Increase 20% people’s awareness and knowledge on importance of rights to participation between 2003 and 2007 (about 1 million people, 50% women).
- Engage local residents to discuss and deal with elected officials in 210 communes and 12 provinces by October 2006.
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A democratic society that democratisation in particular democratic elections are promoted and qualified to bring benefits to people.
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Core objectives and Programs
- Advocacy: civil society input for the developments of the legal framework for the election and better local governance.
- Capacity Building: Strengthen Comfrel's networks.
- Civic/voter Education: Inform and sducate the puplic on their rights and participation.
- Monitoring: Increase transparency and confidence in the election process.
- Media and External Relations: Improve relationships and communications with media, relevant state institutions and other international Organizations, stimulate debate and provide information on election issues to the media and public.
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Comfrel has a Board of Director, comprinsing 12 Cambodian NGOs such as: Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Human Rights Vigilance of Cambodia (VIGILANCE), Socio-Economic Development Organization of Cambodia (SEDOC), Cambodian Women's Crisis Center (CWCC), Cambodian Center for the protection of Chirldren's Rights (CCPCR), Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC) Khmer Pampuchea Krom for Human Rights Association (KKKhRA), Women's Media Center of Cambodia (WMC), Cambodia Defence Project (CDP), Khmer Youth Association (KYA), Cham Khmer Islam Minority Human Rights and Development Association (CKIMHRD) and Cambodia Association for the Elderly (CAE) which involve in strategy and policy decision of comfrel Executive Committee, the key unit that plan and organises the implementation of the comfrel's programs. The Central office maintains communication and spplies training and material for Comfrel's provincial network, where the Provincial Executive Groups, comprising up to five persons, organise the work of the District Contact Persons and Commune Activists, providing training with assistance from the Cental Office.
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The expected steps in building the nation's democratic institutios are the National Assembly, Senate and Commune Council, election. Accordingly, Comfrel envisages nationwide monitoring of these elections accompanied by
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Post Elections Activities
Comfrel's broadening its mission from the technicalities of election observation to encompass the emowerment of local civil actors reflects Comfrel's desire to use its network to empower local observers to respond and to react to local governance issues and promote citizens insights of the of the government throughout the electoral cycle.
The organization plans to monitor the performane of elected government in honoring elected individual/political party pledges, particularly with regard to better governance and the rule of law.
Under its advocay programme, Comfrel has organized a variety of siminars and conferences attended by representative from the government, legislature and NGOs.
Through these, Comfrel has produced concrete proposals and recommandations for reform of the electoral system and institutions, in particular to permit the fielding of independend candidates as well as for restructuring of the NEC.
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Commune/Sangkat Council Elections and decentralisation
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