Election Monitors Report Threats and Intimidation Reported

While no serious violence has been reported, election monitors have recorded at least a dozen cases of threats, intimidation or other irregularities since the official commune election campaign period began on Friday, monitors said Sunday.

An SRP activist was arrested in Kandal province Saturday morning after he and a CPP activist got into a fistfight in Kandal Stung district’s Prek Kampoes commune, said Mar Sophal, monitoring coordinator with the Commit­tee for Free and Fair Elections.

In Stung Treng province’s Anlong Phe commune on Friday and Saturday, a CPP commune official told small groups of Funcinpec, SRP and Norodom Ranariddh Party activists that those who voted for any party other than the CPP would be “responsible before the law,” Mar Sophal alleged.

There have also been five re­ported cases of government vehicles being used as part of CPP campaign processions, he added.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu So­pheak said he had heard no reports from the CPP of intimidation or harassment, and said questions about irregularities should be directed to the Na­tional Election Committee.

“[The CPP] doesn’t do anything that is running counter to the law…because we know that we will win,” he added.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said there have been some arguments between party officials on the ground since campaigns began, but that electoral officials have been able to resolve most of the disputes.

“The NEC has opened the political campaign to all parties and the NEC protects all of them,” he said.

Kim Ren, an SRP official in Kratie province, claimed Sunday that CPP activists in Snuol district blared loud music to disturb an SRP rally.

The SRP was able to continue campaigning after officials from the commune election commission intervened, Kim Ren said.

Hang Puthea, director of the Neutral and Impartial Com­mittee for Free Elections in Cambodia, claimed that a de­puty village chief in Oddar Mean­chey province told three women married to SRP candidates that, if their husbands remained on the candidate list after March 15, “he could not guar­antee their safety.”

SRP Secretary-General Mu Sochua called confrontations between the SRP and CPP at the commune level a “local issue.”

“It is not systematic,” she said.

Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said he had heard no reports of irregularities.

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kan­harith referred questions about irregularities to the NEC.

“[The CPP] is very disciplined…. We listen to the rules,” he said, adding that officials found to have violated rules must be punished.

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