With the 15-day campaigning period for the commune elections coming to a close March 30, the National Election Committee said that the run-up to Sunday’s poll has been “tranquil.”
Speaking at a press conference, NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said that his organization had only received 26 complaints across the whole country, a significant reduction from the 144 complaints he said the NEC received ahead of the 2002 commune elections.
“It has been very smooth and the campaign was tranquil, even though there were some issues related to verbal arguments,” he said. “But [these arguments] did not obstruct the campaigns if compared to previous elections.”
But Tep Nytha’s own press conference did not go so smoothly when Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Channtha stood up and lashed out against the NEC, claiming that it did nothing to stop an unnamed party from handing out rice and sarongs to get votes.
“Is the NEC, which called the campaign smooth, aware of this?” Muth Channtha asked. “We have received a lot of threats against the NRP,” he added.
On Friday evening, Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naruth said that there were no problems as parties made their last ditch efforts to rally supporters to the polls.
Funcinpec was out early with a small army of supporters in lemon yellow attire who drove through the streets of Phnom Penh in pickup trucks or on motorbikes in tight formations.
The SRP took a similar approach, winding a growing caravan of supporters around the city to attract supporters to a planned candlelight rally in Hun Sen Park after nightfall.
A CPP rally in a small park on Phnom Penh’s Tchecoslovaquie Boulevard pulled in around 1,000 supporters by late afternoon, as Finance Minister Keat Chhon extolled the merits of his party—his speech frequently punctuated by shouts of “Prosperity!” from the emcee.
(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul, John Maloy and Lor Chandara)