anlong veng district, Oddar Meanchey province – Several former Khmer Rouge soldiers say they have been threatened by local authorities, who told them to join only the ruling CPP.
Mong Ton said the authorities and military officials, who also were former Khmer Rouge soldiers, told him to stay in the CPP and not join other political parties.
Despite the intimidation, Mong Ton said he would join the royalist Funcinpec because he had become disillusioned with the CPP.
“I feel very bad and I want to remind them that we had struggled together in the jungle for more than 20 years,” Mong Ton said. “We tried to help each other. So why are their ideas not like before? If we are united, we are strong.”
Mong Ton said since Anlong Veng fell to government forces in 1998, the once united former Khmer Rouge cadre have broke out into factions and people no longer help each other.
Since the former Khmer Rouge stronghold joined the government, Funcinpec and the CPP have opened offices in Anlong Veng. The Sam Rainsy Party does not yet have an official presence in Anlong Veng, but Eng Chhay Eang, secretary general of the opposition party, said an office would be opened after the party congress next month.
Funcinpec officials in Oddar Meanchey province said those loyal to the CPP in Anlong Veng were intimidating others and telling them not to join other political parties. They said the CPP wants to control Anlong Veng and other former Khmer Rouge areas, such as Pailin.
Peouy Saroeun, deputy chief of Anlong Veng district, dismissed the accusations, saying local authorities did not intimidate.
“We are open to other political parties to create offices here,” he said. “Now we have the CPP and Funcinpec; we welcome more.”
Nhem, of Anlong Veng and a member of Funcinpec, said Cambodia is now a democratic country and he can join any political party he chooses. “I hope we are moving toward democracy,” he said. “But because of corruption and intimidation by former comrades, we are moving backwards and people are suffering.”