Sam Rainsy Says Threats to Activists Rising

On the heels of the slaying of a Sam Rainsy Party activist in Pailin, the opposition leader warned Tuesday that his supporters face increasing intimidation and prom­ised to double any Election Day bribes offered by the CPP.

The ruling party plans to bribe party agents and election monitors and “either they accept the money and they continue to live, or…they can face many things, including death,” Sam Rainsy told reporters at party headquarters.

He also charged that the CPP planned to submit fake ballots and manipulate the counting process to create “ghost votes” in the party’s favor. Any CPP official who could produce evidence of the scheme will receive a $10,000 reward, he said.

Rewards could urge disillusioned CPP members to undercut corruption, he said.

“This country is dying slowly because we have given in to intimidation and blackmail too long,” Sam Rainsy said.

The news conference came hours after officials in Pailin discovered the body of Thet Vibol, a 25-year-old Sam Rainsy Party activist. Pailin Deputy Police Chief Chea Chandin said he died Monday night from at least 10 ax wounds.

Thet Vibol, a motorcycle taxi driver, was known to play recorded Sam Rainsy speeches through a megaphone at his house, said Suy Sovan, a Pailin monitor with the Committee for Free and Fair Elections. No arrests have been made.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Interior Tuesday ordered that village chiefs and deputy chiefs be forbidden from working as party agents. Monitors, NGOs and many party leaders say village chiefs—most of whom are self-professed CPP supporters—are wielding strong political influence in their villages.

Village and commune chiefs are not legally considered civil servants and can actively campaign, but a code of conduct signed last month by the NEC and several political parties asked the chiefs to be neutral.

Prum Sokha, a secretary of state at the Interior Ministry, said he had no proof that village chiefs were biased.

“If we find out that those village chiefs are really biased, we will suspend them and punish them according to the law,” he said.

Also, ballots remaining from elections from 1998 and 2002 will remain in storage until after Sunday, according to National Election Committee officials.

The ballots were slated to be destroyed before the election to avoid confusion that they might be used illegally in this year’s election. Existing regulations require ballots from national elections to be kept for four years before they are destroyed.

“The NEC is very busy with the election process. We will burn those ballots after the elections,” committee spokesman Leng Sochea said.

In a meeting at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights Tues­­day, representatives from 15 parties listed vote-buying, intimidation and unbalanced access to the media as problems they’ve met in their campaigns.

Nuon Bunna, president of the Cambodian Women’s Party, said her party’s supporters had been harassed for distributing leaflets in a market and that female teachers were intimidated by school headmasters.

Also, the capital’s governor on Friday asked Phnom Penh drivers to slow down and not drive in groups to improve security during the elections. The City Hall directive, signed by Governor Kep Chuktema, said motorbikes traveling side-by-side can cause accidents, which create instability.

“Authorities have to put measures against those who respect the law by fine,” the directive says.

Today Funcinpec lawmaker Princess Norodom Vacheara, Senator Nhiek Bun Chhay and Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua will lead a motorbike rally through Phnom Penh as Prince Norodom Ranariddh campaigns in Prey Veng town.

Prime Minister Hun Sen will appear in the rice fields of Takeo province, and Sam Rainsy will campaign in Kompong Cham province.

 

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