Intimidation Complaints Rise as Elections Loom

Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh said Thursday he was troubled by the rash of “accidents” candidates from his party and the Sam Rainsy Party have encountered during the commune council campaign.

“I am concerned about the accidents that are happening everywhere, and I regret the killing of Funcinpec members in Pursat province,” he said.

Funcinpec activist Las Kouk and his wife, Math Chaes, were gunned down Sunday in Kom­pong Pol commune, Krakor district, Pursat province. Their two assailants allegedly were wearing military uniforms.

“I am not saying the killing was political. All these incidents have been robberies and accidents,” the prince said.

“But security is clearly not tight enough. I hope that from this moment forward local authorities will strengthen security for all the people. Even robberies and accidents must stop; not just against Funcinpec members, but in general.”

While Sam Rainsy Party officials have complained of threats and intimidation for months, Funcinpec, the CPP’s coalition partner, has been more hesitant.  The prince is the highest-ranking Funcinpec official to complain publicly. The election is Sunday.

Eang Chhay Eang, secretary general of the Sam Rainsy Party, said intimidation of his party’s candidates and activists continues.

“We have many problems at the local level. Our campaign posters are torn down, party T-shirts are torn, posters and placards are burned,” Eang Chhay Eang said. He claimed candidates have been prevented from dropping leaflets in some areas and shouted down as they tried to speak.

Recent incidents alleged include:

• In Prek Sdei commune, Koh Thom district, Kandal province, Sam Rainsy Party activist Nhoem Sokhom, 35, claimed two CPP candidates verbally abused him and tore his party T-shirt while he was campaigning on a motorbike. Huy Por Lim, chair of the Kandal provincial election committee, said Thursday he had just received a complaint and was sending committee workers to investigate the charges. He said the commune election committee had already determined the dispute was personal.

• In Lungvek commune, Tralach district, Kompong Chhnang province, No 1 Sam Rainsy Party candidate Kong Visith Thara said local authorities broke and burned his party’s placards five times last month. He said his report to the commune election committee was ignored. Provincial election committee official Men Phoeun said no complaint was ever made.

• Koeng Mao, assistant to Eang Chhay Eang, said security guards at Orussei Market prevented candidates from entering to hand out leaflets even though the candidates had informed the commune election committee of their plans 15 days in advance.

National Election Committee spokesman Prum Nhean Vichet said he had not received reports on these cases.

One person was killed Thursday when a hit-and-run driver struck a Sam Rainsy Party supporter in a parade in Pursat town. A Sam Rainsy Party spokesman said the party believed it was an accident.

 

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