Official: Gov’t Deplores Candidate Killings

Suggestions that the slayings of three female political hopefuls last week were politically motivated are “exaggerations” that only serve to worsen the climate as Cambodia prepares for the Feb 3 commune elections, a government spokes­man said Thursday.

Within a three-day period last week, three separate shootings in Kampot and Svay Rieng prov­inces left a Funcinpec commune candidate and her husband, a Funcinpec village chief hopeful and a Sam Rainsy Party commune candidate dead.

The violence began Jan 3, when Ngoun Choun, 53, who hoped to be appointed village chief after the elections, was gunned down at home in Prey Tonle village, Prey Tonle commune, Banteay Meas district, Kampot province.

The following day, a gunman shot and killed Funcinpec commune candidate Long Phon, 47, and her husband Soun Kroeun, also 47, near their Kro Haung village, Chhouk I commune, Chhouk district, Kampot prov­ince home. On Jan 5, two gunmen broke into the Doun Leb village, Kork Preang commune, Svay Chrum district, Svay Rieng province home of Sam Rainsy Party candidate Touch Sean, 42, and shot her once in the chest.

Authorities in Banteay Meas district issued an arrest warrant Thursday for a man they say shot Ngoun Choun.

Suggestions the killings were politically motivated are an insult to the ruling CPP and Cambo­dia’s fledgling democratic pro­cess, both government spokes­man Khieu Sopheak and a government news release stated.

“We would like to join in giving our condolences to the victims’ families,” said Khieu Sopheak. “There has been enough civil war for the last 30 years. Victory by weapons is the way of Lon Nol and Pol Pot, which leads only to unrest and no proper seating of offices.”

The deaths of three women sparked outrage from Woman For Prosperity, an NGO that claims to have trained more than 5,000 women, including Long Phon, to get them involved in the commune elections.

“We are very horrified to hear the news of the killings of women candidates. These killings will discourage women from being politicians and candidates. It will affect every other woman who serves in political parties and in society as a whole,” WFP Executive Director Nanda Pok said.

The WFP will march at 7:30 am Sunday starting at Wat Phnom.

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