kompong chhnang town – Opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Sunday denounced the deadly attack on election workers near Anlong Veng, and feared it could deter voters from going to the polls.
“I condemn any attempt to disrupt the electoral process,” Sam Rainsy told reporters on a campaign swing through Kompong Chhnang town.
“The result is…it will make people afraid to vote.”
Two government soldiers were killed Friday and five people wounded when about seven armed men ambushed a convoy of election workers near the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng.
The government blames hard-line guerrillas under the command of Ta Mok.
Sam Rainsy said the government should be open-minded enough to “give amnesty to everyone,” including Khmer Rouge leaders and resistance generals.
He referred to nominal guerrilla leader Khieu Samphan, but did not mention feared military commander Ta Mok or ideologue Nuon Chea. All three are wanted by the government and international human rights groups for possible crimes against humanity.
“Pol Pot is dead, [and] I don’t think Khieu Samphan is worse than Ieng Sary,” Sam Rainsy said, referring to Ieng Sary’s defection to the government in 1996 following an amnesty from King Norodom Sihanouk.
Later Sunday, in a speech to hundreds of supporters at a wat in Odong district, Kompong Speu province, Sam Rainsy said he would ask the King to give a wide-ranging amnesty to Khmer Rouge leaders and resistance fighters loyal to deposed first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
“I will write to His Majesty the King, proposing him to amnesty all Cambodians to bring full and real peace to Cambodia,” Sam Rainsy said.
The former finance minister also played up his familiar anti-Vietnamese rhetoric, railing against illegal Vietnamese immigrants and accusing CPP Vice President and Second Prime Minister Hun Sen of being a “puppet” of Hanoi.
“He is a real nationalist,” said supporter Leang Suy, who commended Sam Rainsy for being brave enough to address controversial issues.
Earlier in the day, at a park in Kompong Chhnang attended by thousands, Sam Rainsy pledged to solve government problems ranging from deforestation to corruption.
“What he said is quite correct,” Teang Soeurn, a 50-year-old resident, said. “Most of my neighbors love him very much. Some political leaders speak of good things, but their actions are not good.”
Sam Rainsy stopped at several markets in Kompong Chhnang and along Route 5, casually talking to vendors young and old. He even took time to buy a bag of dried fish while visiting Phsar Chhnang.
“Oh, he is young and good-looking,” one vendor exclaimed. “I thought he was old.”