Reports of Election Troubles Start Coming In

Though scarcely into the month-long campaign period, reports are already coming in of possible pre-election violence and the alleged misuse of state property and vehicles, among other complaints.

In Battambang province, the provincial chief for the Norodom Ranariddh Party said Sunday that his car had been shot at in an apparent assassination attempt.

Suth Dina said that at about midnight Sunday, his vehicle was am­bush­ed by a group of armed men in Kamrieng district.

“They wanted to kill me; it was not a threat,” he said by telephone.

Suth Dina said that the car’s windshield was blown out by gunfire, which struck the frame on the driver’s side as they tried to speed away from their attackers.

However, provincial police chief Kong Sokhon said he doubted the veracity of Suth Dina’s account because police had received no reports of gunfire.

In Kompong Cham’s O’Reang-ou district, a CPP deputy chief of Prey Sokhom village was shot twice and strangled to death Thursday night in Damrel commune. Local ruling party officials say they believe the man, Meas Ra, 37, was killed for political reasons.

“I am suspecting that it was a politically motivated [killing],” said District Governor Khhun Tha, noting that nothing was taken from the victim, ruling out the possibility of a robbery.

Thal Ratanak, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said that his organization believes that revenge, not politics, prompted the killing.

The SRP has also filed a complaint with the Battambang Pro­vincial Court against Battam­bang District Governor Uy Ry, accusing him of illegally destroying SRP signs placed in public areas.

“The SRP has sued Uy Ry for destroying personal property,” said SRP youth movement President Suon Chamroeun.

Uy Ry could not be reached for comment, but provincial election committee Chairman Vorn Porn said that the SRP was merely prevented from installing signs in public areas that could have an effect on road traffic.

Puthea Hang, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Com­mittee for Free Elections in Cam­bodia, said CPP officials have been making use of government ve­hicles to campaign for their party, mere­ly removing or covering the state license plates.

“It is against election campaign procedure,” he said Sunday.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap denied Sunday that any CPP officials were using government vehicles, but perhaps some were using personally acquired cars that have state plates.

National Election Committee Secretary-General Tep Nytha said that his office has received 11 complaints since the campaign kicked off Thursday, and that it is working to resolve them.

Tep Nytha said the NEC would inform officials in Battam­bang that parties are allowed to install signs in most public places during the campaign period.

He said that he has also heard complaints of officials campaigning using state vehicles, which he said is illegal. He added, however, that responsibility for putting a stop to vehicles without license plates lies with the police.

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