Poipet Village Chiefs Can’t Be Sworn In: Official

A senior Interior Ministry official said Thursday that the ministry would not recognize 11 village chiefs who the SRP plans to swear in next week in Banteay Meanchey pro­vince’s Poipet commune.

The SRP announced Thursday that party leader Sam Rainsy will hold ceremonies for the 11 village chiefs—four of whom are SRP members—who were elected June 21.

But Interior Ministry General De­part­ment Director Sak Setha said the ministry will not acknowledge the 11 due to an ongoing investigation into alleged voting irregularities re­­ported by the province’s CPP governor On Sum shortly after the vote for the village chiefs.

New elections might have to be held in some of the villages, he said.

Sak Setha also took issue with the SRP holding such a ceremony. “Village chiefs do not belong to any political party,” Sak Setha maintained. “SRP cannot do that.”

Five CPP members and two Funcinpec officials are among the 11 village chiefs.

On Sum said he had sent a re­quest to the Interior Ministry to hold re-elections for all 11 villages, but has re­ceived no response.

He said he objected to the election results because the village chiefs did not live in the communities they were going to head.

The SRP said in a statement that it sent a letter on June 28 to the In­ter­ior Ministry informing them of the election outcome but received no answer. The statement said the SRP has taken this silence as an ac­know­ledgement by the ministry of the election results.

Sam Rainsy said that only 50 of ap­­proximately 14,000 village chiefs nation­­wide belong to the SRP. He said that the Interior Ministry was in no position to deny the re­sults of the elect­ion, let alone call for a rerun.

He added that the CPP were “sore los­ers.” Sam Rainsy said the CPP wanted to control every village chief so it can manipulate villagers during the 2007 commune elections.


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