Written Answers. - Cambodian Elections.

Olivia Mitchell


57 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps, if any, the Government, the EU and OSCE are taking to ensure that a national election commission in Cambodia is composed in a neutral and independent way to ensure that elections to be held on 26 July 1998 are free and fair. [8249/98]

The Government and its partners in the European Union are deeply concerned that the elections scheduled for 26 September in Cambodia may not be held in a manner that could be satisfactorily described as free and fair. The attitude adopted by the Hun Sen regime towards the organisation of the elections and also the regime's relationship with the national election commission will clearly be crucial in this regard.

The European Commission has allocted a total of 9.5 million ecu to provide electoral assistance and to supply and equip observers for the election process. The Commission has established an office in Phnom Penh which — together with those EU embassies which are already located there — will be well placed to monitor events. We have been assured that should the Commission representatives conclude that suitable conditions for a free and fair election do not exist, Commission funding will be immediately halted. In such circumstances, widespread international acceptance of the results of any election would be unlikely.

A positive development in the past two weeks has been the amnesty granted to the former first Prime Minister, Prince Ranariddh. This should allow him to return to Cambodia and participate in the elections.