National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Monday that he would give supporters 5,000 riel ($1.25) each and remove inactive officials from candidate lists in order to win at least 40 percent of the vote in the 2007 communal elections.
The prince also claimed that Funcinpec lost votes in previous elections because the party obeyed election rules and regulations, which in effect left it fighting with one hand tied behind its back, he said at a party meeting in Phnom Penh.
“Dog barks, man walks,” he said, using a Khmer expression suggesting that those with power can ignore critics and rules. “We will walk and not worry about the barking dog,” he said of his party’s strategy for the next election.
He added that a weak man might be arrested for ignoring or violating the law, but that doing so is no problem for a strong man.
Prince Ranariddh said he would give voters 5,000 riel so they could buy ice water after voting. When it was suggested that 5,000 riel is more than enough for water, the prince added, “gas is expensive as well.”
He also promised to give motorbikes to commune officials if Funcinpec wins in their communes.
Party activists in Battambang province were given close to 100 motorbikes last week, Funcinpec officials said Sunday.
Prince Ranariddh said such tactics were necessary because the National Election Committee is not neutral.
“He has a right to say that,” said Leng Sochea, a spokesman for the NEC, when asked Monday for reaction to the prince’s comments.
Koul Panha, president of Comfrel, agreed with Prince Ranariddh about the NEC.
“The NEC is completely partisan,” he said. “They are recruited by the Ministry of the Interior…. Most former members go on to high government positions.”
But he emphasized that paying voters directly would violate the law.
“It violates the election law,” he said of the strategy. “If you violate the election law, you should be punished.”
Prince Ranariddh added that royalist parliamentarians who do not visit supporters for two to three months would be taken off candidate lists.
He also said provincial governors would be removed from lists if their provinces do not vote for Funcinpec.
Prince Ranariddh on Monday also blasted opposition leader Sam Rainsy, alleging that he has abandoned his party.
“He runs away and leaves his followers in the cold,” he said, adding that Sam Rainsy dares not return because he has no evidence to back up the allegations of corruption he has leveled against the prince.
“The new King would not dare give pardon to Sam Rainsy,” he added.
Eng Chhay Eang, the secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party, called Ranariddh’s comments “a threat.”
“Time will tell whether Sam Rainsy will come back,” Eng Chhay Eang said, adding that when the party was founded there was only one Sam Rainsy but now there are “thousands of Sam Rainsys all over the country. The election will tell who will be in the cold.”
(Additional reporting by Michael Cowden)