Some of the voters whose registration cards were collected by CPP representatives in the past month have had them returned with a little something extra—a second card urging them to vote for the CPP, according to human rights workers and opposition party officials.
The practice appears to be a variation on the reportedly widespread CPP push to gather up voter registration cards, record their numbers and then return them, they said.
A CPP official, however, repeated a denial that the party’s officials are gathering up voters’ registration cards at all.
“The CPP is not interested in doing this….This is the opposition making rumors,” party Cabinet chief Ith Sam Heng said.
A photocopy of one of the CPP cards, obtained from voters by rights workers investigating possible intimidation, shows a smiling Hun Sen with the words, “Samdech Hun Sen and peace are one. Samdech Hun Sen and national unification are one. Samdech Hun Sen and development are one.”
The back of the card has the CPP logo and the slogan, “A vote for the People’s Party and Samdech Hun Sen strengthens peace in Cambodia.”
One rights worker said he had spoken to villagers in Kampot province’s Prey Khmum commune and in Kandal’s Khsach Kandal district, whose local CPP “cell leader” had taken their registration cards and later returned them with the Hun Sen card. The Hun Sen cards given to villagers in both areas appeared identical, he said.
Both Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party have complained to the National Election Committee about reports of card-collecting
in Kandal and Kompong Cham provinces.
Although it is unclear what law, if any, CPP officials would break by collecting the cards, opposition party officials said the intent is to intimidate voters.
“When you go to people and ask for their ID card and take it, you are already violating their privacy in their right to vote,” said Funcinpec spokesman May Sam Oeun. “It creates fear in this society.”
In some areas, village chiefs have openly admitted gathering up voters’ cards and recording the numbers for the CPP, the rights worker said.
One village chief even
showed him the standardized forms that the chief said local leaders are asked to fill out. A handmade copy of the Khmer-language form showed the CPP name and was marked “Control List Registration of Party Members.”
The form had spaces for voters’ name, sex, address, “party group,” and registration card number.
Asked about the form and the Hun Sen card, Ith Sam Heng said they were part of a plot by opposition party members to fool journalists and human rights workers and to smear the CPP.
“I know that sometimes the opposition set up their people to use the CPP name to make rumor and fake evidence to blame the CPP,” Ith Sam Heng said. “Sometimes they use people with the name of the CPP to talk to newspapers and talk with observers.”
“This is the same thing they did already in the 1993 elections,” he said.