Cambodia’s religious leaders banded together on Wednesday to plead for a peaceful July 27 general election.
Leaders from Buddhist, Muslim and Christian communities, which make up the Cambodian Inter-Religious Council, met at the Buddhist Institute to urge politicians to help end violence.
“It is very important to gather all kinds of religious leaders to advise politicians to avoid violence when solving problems,” said Bun Chhea, a monk representing Supreme Patriarch Bou Kry of the minority Dhammayut sect.
Religious officials said they were concerned with the amount of violence that has marred previous elections.
They said they hoped to preach the virtues of compassion, justice, patience and tolerance common to all religions.
“Each religion has its own bible, which contains principle beliefs and educational advice relating to issues such as moral values and compassion,” said Ung Ty, a CPP senator who also serves as chairman of the Cambodian Christians Council. “This ensures that each believer builds a moral foundation in their heart and helps prevent violence.”
Addressing more than 50 participants, Ung Ty said quarreling, false accusations and criticisms are the main causes of violence.
“Do not accuse someone in order for someone not to accuse you back,” Ung Ty said.
According to police officials, at least seven members of the three main political parties have been killed since the June 26 start of campaigning.
Cambodia is estimated to have more than 500,000 Muslims and more than 70,000 Christians.
Ung Sophearith, deputy administrator of the Ministry of Cults and Religion, said 95 percent of Cambodians are Buddhist.
The Cambodian Inter-Religious Council, which formed last October, established a mandate to address issues related to Cambodia’s development, such as education, democracy and human rights.