State election workers in four provinces Tuesday waded into campaign complaints from political parties who have reported alleged vote buying, bias, threats and violence.
Pursat’s provincial election committee Tuesday issued a $1,250 fine to CPP National Committee for Disaster Management Second Vice President Ly Thuch, who it said had improperly distributed $150 to 20 families while campaigning in Bakan district June 28.
“We decided to fine him 5 million riel because he has committed wrongdoing accidentally, not intentionally,” Pursat PEC President Phan Vansith said.
The fine, which resulted from an SRP complaint, could have carried a maximum penalty five times greater, he said, adding that the PEC had found Ly Thuch had merely given the money in response to requests from villagers in Metoek commune and had not planned the meeting.
Ly Thuch said Tuesday he would pay the fine but felt the SRP had penalized a humanitarian act, not a political one.
“That money I gave to those people just in humanitarian terms because that community asked for help to build stairs down to a pond for pregnant women, the disabled and elderly people to be comfortable getting water,” he said.
Provincial SRP leader Heng Chanthourn said that when distributing the money, Ly Thuch had told the recipients to vote for the CPP.
“He did buy votes from the villagers,” Heng Chanthourn said. “He should be punished strongly by not being allowed to vote or to stand for election for five years,” he added.
SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mu Sochua said Tuesday she would lodge a complaint today with the National Election Committee because the Kampot provincial election committee had not punished an RCAF commander severely enough for his alleged public support for the CPP on June 30.
Kampot PEC President Te Channarith said Tuesday he had issued San Sman, RCAF commander of the Tan Hann border checkpoint, with a warning for driving a military vehicle that sported CPP campaign stickers.
“I did not find strong evidence to punish him,” Te Channarith said.
It was Mu Sochua’s right to pursue her complaint to the national level if she wished, he added.
Mu Sochua said the PEC ruling had not been enough.
“Just warning that RCAF commander is not an acceptable resolution,” she said.
San Sman could not be reached for comment.
Phuong Sophal, a village CPP leader in Prey Veng province’s Prey Veng district, on Tuesday accused four Norodom Ranariddh Party activists of vote-buying during a meeting at his village in Svay Anthor commune’s Svay Anthor Muoy village June 2.
However, commune election committee director Loeng Sophal said the complaint, which he received Monday, should have been filed within three days of the alleged offense and was therefore invalid.
Loeng Sophal said that he would nevertheless forward the complaint to the provincial committee for adjudication.
Phuong Sophal claimed that at the meeting, NRP activists—Sao Rany, Nuth Nindoeun, Anan Khatiya and Pok Thareth—had accused the CPP of permitting corruption and land grabs.
“These people committed vote buying because after the meeting they distributed cash,” he claimed by telephone.
Pok Thareth, an NRP candidate, said Tuesday that 3,000 riel had been given to each of about 1,000 participants at the meeting, but only to pay for travel expenses. This payment, he claimed, was not in exchange for votes.
Siv Sophoan, head of the CEC in Memot district’s Romchek commune, said Tuesday that he had decided to forward competing CPP and SRP complaints to the Kompong Cham provincial election committee after both sides failed to reach a compromise.
An 80-person SRP motorcade claimed last week they had been threatened and attacked by two CPP supporters July 3.
However, the two men said it was the SRP activists who had hurled objects at them.
“I have to send this case to the PEC,” Siv Sophoan said. “The SRP refused to end the matter and continued demanding punishment,” he said.