CPP supporters are preventing opposition supporters from driving past their rally base at Phnom Penh’s Wat Botum park, harassing Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) followers’ vehicles and refusing to let them through—a clear violation of the election law.
On Saturday evening, youths clad in CPP paraphernalia manned the intersection of Sothearos and Suramarit boulevards, denying thoroughfare to any vehicle baring opposition insignia—a practice that National Election Committee Secretary-General Tep Nytha said earlier this month was banned.
In one instance, a group of six CPP youths surrounded a motorbike, pulled the driver’s hands from the handlebars and forcibly turned the bike around and demanded he drive away.
In another, the driver of an SUV who refused to stop at the unofficial checkpoint was chased along Suramarit Boulevard by a group of CPP youths, who pounded the sides of his car. One youth was heard yelling: “This is our street. These are our rules.”
On Sunday, 47-year-old tuk-tuk driver Hy Sokhom said he became a target when a CPP youth spotted a CNRP sticker on his tuk-tuk as he attempted to turn on to Suramarit Boulevard from Sothearos Boulevard.
“I didn’t even know the sticker was there so I was shocked and scared when the young people ran in front of my tuk-tuk,” he said.
“[The CPP supporters] said that the street belonged to them and that it would spark violence if I was to enter their block. I didn’t want to make a fight so I turned around and left,” Mr. Sokhom said.
Kep Chuktema, former city governor and a CPP election candidate for Phnom Penh and head of the party’s campaign committee in the capital, said his party was granted permission to rally at the corner of Wat Botum park, adding that his young colleagues were simply preventing election campaigning on Suramarit Boulevard. “We don’t stop anyone from entering,” he said.
Mr. Chuktema said the CPP supporters had only broken the rules in stopping traffic on Suramarit Boulevard in their efforts to enforce another. “There is no campaigning allowed on Suramarit Boulevard by any party,” he said, “that is why we have to stop the opposition from coming there to rally. This is the municipality’s rule.”
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said anyone aggrieved at being stopped by the CPP youth on Suramarit Boulevard “should file a complaint.”