New Political Party’s Leader Accuses Police of Harassment

The leader of the recently formed Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party accused police on Wednesday of harassing his supporters in Pailin municipality, and Prey Veng, Kompong Cham and Kandal provinces.

Founder of his self-named party, Hang Dara said activists and supporters were told by pro­vincial police that the movement was illegal even though the Inter­ior Ministry granted a permit for the new political party on Aug 28.

Var South, 34, a Hang Dara party activist in Prey Veng, said police in the Peam Ro district pointed a gun at his head on Mon­day and warned him not to join the party.

Prey Veng Provincial Police Chief Eak Khem on Wednes­day denied the claims.

“This morning, we held a meeting with all district policemen to strengthen security and protection for the members of every party in Prey Veng’s 12 districts,” Eak Khem said. “There is no intimidation of Hang Dara party members,” he said.

Dr Khea Sokum, founder of the Hang Dara party in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin, said on Monday he was threatened with arrest by local military police officers last week.

According to Khea Sokum, the military police accused him of defaming government authorities when he began canvassing support for the Hang Dara party.

“I appeal to the local human rights groups and the Interior Ministry to protect my personal security in Pailin,” Khea Sokum said by telephone.

Municipal authorities in Pailin could not be contacted for comment on Wednesday.

Hang Dara announced last week that his party is set to install some 1,700 party signs nationwide and open offices in all pro­v­inces and municipalities.

“If the coming national elections are run without fraud, I hope to win at least 20 seats,” he said. His party is currently awaiting the final approval of the In­terior Ministry.

(Additional reporting by Nhem Chea Bunly)


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