Defense Ministry Pledges Neutrality in Elections

A Defense Ministry spokesman on Thursday contended the Cambodian military would stay politically neutral during Sunday’s commune elections, countering a statement allegedly from provincial military commanders pledging loyalty to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Chhum Socheat said on Thursday that while soldiers were allowed to vote for their preferred candidate, “they are a neutral military in front of the law.”

That contradicted a statement published by government-affiliated Fresh News on Wednesday in which unidentified military forces in Preah Vihear province vowed to protect “Prime Minister Hun Sen…as the Cambodian prime minister for the next mandates, forever.”

Mr. Socheat said he had not seen the article, and declined to comment.

Article 72 of the commune election law bars members of the military from participating in the electoral campaign for any political party or candidate.

Mr. Socheat also criticized CNRP lawmaker Yim Sovann for saying the party would equip the military with modern weapons if they came to power, describing it as a statement “just for…cheating people for votes.”

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