Kem Sokha Concerned Over Post-Election Violence

Opposition vice president Kem Sokha on Thursday said he could not guarantee there would be no violence following Sunday’s vote and appealed to the international community to be on alert and help ensure a peaceful transition after the election results are released.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with a representative from the U.N. human rights agency at the headquarters of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in Phnom Penh, Mr. Sokha said he had expressed his concerns that the atmosphere going into the final days of the campaign was tense and could easily boil over if the election results are contested.

“We don’t know if the CNRP wins what the reaction will be from the CPP, and if the CPP wins, what the reaction will be from the CNRP supporters,” Mr. Sokha said.

Given such uncertainty, Mr. Sokha said the U.N. and the 18 na­tions—including the U.S., China, France and Japan—that oversaw the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement that ended decades of fighting in Cambodia should be ready to ensure peace once again after the elections.

“I call for the Paris Peace Agreement’s signatories to prepare to come and be mediators, and observe, because I think the election this year is very tough,” he said, referring to the deal that initiated the U.N. peacekeeping mission that oversaw the 1993 national election.

“We just want to have [the international community on alert] as a preventative measure because we are not sure whether or not there will be violence,” he said.

Mr. Sokha was back in Phnom Penh for a brief stop amid a fast-paced provincial tour, and met with the U.N. representative to voice concerns over recent outbreaks of pre-election violence.

Although reports of recent clashes have cited opposition supporters provoking CPP supporters with anti-Vietnamese rhetoric—namely with the use of the word “yuon”—Mr. Sokha insisted that the CNRP would take a nonviolent approach to the outcome of the election.

“First we are waiting to see how correct the election result is, and if the result is really wrong, we will consider which way to complain,” he said.

“We will complain in a nonviolent way, not a violent one…. We want to see a solution that can be acceptable for all.”

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he could not predict what will happen after the election, but said all parties must accept the decision of the electorate.

“We have to respect the majority choice. We’re talking about the rule of law. We are talking about democracy. That is why we hold elections, it doesn’t mean we are divided,” Mr. Siphan said. “We don’t have any expectations of the outcome. It’s the people’s choice, and the rule of law is going to be applied to anyone who tries to cause trouble [after the result].”

Mr. Siphan said mass rallies in support of the CNRP taking place around the country showed that the election was being conducted in a free environment.

“The opposition party plans to fabricate stories to show that the results are a disappointment [to the people],” Mr. Siphan said.

Mr. Sokha said he had met at his own request with a local representative of the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to express concerns about rising tensions.

He also said he had specifically requested that the U.N. investigate clashes on Wednesday in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district and an incident early Saturday in which a gunshot was fired through a glass door of the CNRP’s headquarters.

He also said he had asked that a U.N. representative monitor campaigning in Neak Leung town in Prey Veng province, an area with many ethnic Vietnamese that Mr. Sokha and CNRP president Sam Rainsy visited Thursday.

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