Second Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered investigations Sunday of alleged post-election intimidation, but warned authorities to be vigilant against bogus complaints.
“I order all ministries and local authorities to take responsibility for the peace so that the election continues to be as successful as it was before,” Hun Sen wrote in a letter to the Interior and Defense ministries.
Hun Sen said he had become aware of reports of political intimidation Saturday.
In light of those reports, “whether they are true or not or not,” he called on all citizens, military and civilian, to exercise tolerance toward each other.
“I am appealing to government officials, armed forces, as well as the public, whatever party they support, to please maintain friendship and gentleness.”
Hun Sen asked those who had suffered intimidation to report the incidents to the authorities, but he also warned investigators to be aware of bogus complaints. “It is possible that those who complained are afraid for another reason but invent the complaint so that they get pity and food,” he said.
“Those whom people did not vote for should not get annoyed, they should find out why they got no votes,” he added.
Both Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party have complained that since the election, their supporters have received death threats and threats of eviction from their property.
One Sam Rainsy Party supporter said he fled from his home after soldiers told him: “If you don’t run away from this village, we will burn your house and kill you.”
About 150 supporters of the Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party from various provinces were holed up in their party headquarters over the weekend with more believed to be sheltering in provincial offices, according to the parties and human rights workers.
Responding to reports for the first time Saturday, Hun Sen compared such tactics with those employed by Pol Pot, the late leader of the Khmer Rouge.
“Any act to intimidate anyone is illegal, immoral and unforgivable,” Hun Sen told reporters at his Takhmau residence, in remarks later broadcast on state-run TVK.
“I appeal for people not to take revenge against each other. Only Pol Pot takes revenge.”
Hun Sen vowed that “no concessions” would be given to anyone who threatened opposition supporters and called on party supporters at all levels to halt intimidation.
“We have to do whatever we can to allow all people—even if they didn’t vote for the CPP or even if they scold or insult us—to receive benefits from the victory of the CPP,” he said.
The alleged intimidation comes in the wake of opposition complaints of irregularities in the ballot-counting procedures.
The CPP’s Im Chhun Lim, secretary of state at the Interior Ministry, said Saturday it was up to the National Election Committee to rule on alleged irregularites, and failing that, the Constitutional Council.
The poll had been declared free and fair by the international community, Im Chhun Lim said. “I am happy to hear that observers said the election was better done than in 1993,” he added.
(Reporting by Pin Sisovann)