Battambang’s provincial election committee is scheduled today to hear a complaint filed against Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh for criticizing co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng in Battambang on June 30.
In a campaign speech, Prince Ranariddh attacked Sar Kheng for allegedly ordering Interior Ministry immigration director Meach Sophana to allow Vietnamese to vote. Sar Kheng is the CPP’s top candidate in Battambang province and a deputy prime minister.
The prince said in the speech that he saw a document given by Meach Sophana to Sar Kheng that said voter cards had been issued to Vietnamese immigrants during the previous election.
The prince called the order a “serious mistake” and contrary to the national interest.
Ham Bony, director of the provincial election committee, said the CPP official who filed the complaint called the prince’s allegation “slanderous and harmful” to Sar Kheng and the CPP. “The plaintiff asked the election officials to warn the prince about saying things that hurt individuals,” he said.
Ham Bony said he invited Funcinpec representatives to meet with the provincial election committee and CPP officials to discuss the problem. “I think both sides can compromise, because it is not tense,” he said. “The plaintiff only wants the prince not to damage Sar Kheng’s reputation.”
Ham Bony would not identify the CPP official who made the complaint, which was originally filed by the official, who serves as a commune councilor in Battambang town’s Svay Por commune. The complaint was moved to the provincial election committee because of Sar Kheng’s status as a top government official, Ham Bony said.
General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry and an adviser to Sar Kheng, said Sar Kheng and Funcinpec co-Minister of Interior You Hockry last year sent a report on Vietnamese voting to the National Assembly, where Prince Ranariddh is president.
“Why didn’t the National Assembly question the issue at the time they sent the report?” he asked.
Khieu Sopheak said the National Election Committee, not the Interior Minister, issued the cards under the scrutiny of national and international monitors during the previous election.