Security to Be Boosted on Final Day of Election Campaigning

Phnom Penh authorities said Thursday that all necessary security measures were in place to ensure that today’s final burst of campaigning would be peaceful and cause limited disruption in the city and that Sunday’s national election vote goes ahead without incident.

Municipal police chief Heng Chantheary said that police, military police and traffic police would be mobilized today in a joint effort to maintain security and direct traffic as political parties rally their support on the last day of campaigning.

“The police will be working hard to keep security, and if the rallies respect the rules, police will not block the roads,” he said, adding that more than 500 traffic police will be deployed to prevent traffic jams and demarcate rally areas.

Police were stacking metal barriers on the roadside in Boeng Keng Kang I commune on Thursday, but commune police chief Kong Sophat said that the barriers were a precaution only.

“The barriers are just to avoid traffic jams if drivers do not respect the traffic police when the rally moves along Sihanouk Boulevard at the street corners,” Mr. Sophat said.

Although there has been little violence during this campaign compared to previous election campaigns, skirmishes have broken out over the past week between CPP and Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) youth.

On Wednesday, supporters from both parties clashed in Russei Keo district, leaving one commune police officer with a head injury after he was struck on the forehead by a thrown rock. And a young CNRP campaigner spent Tuesday night in the hospital after he was hit on the back of the head with a brick during a similar confrontation.

“These clashes are regrettable, they are dangerous for those who go to freely support whichever party they choose, which is why we have cooperation between all our police forces including the military police to ensure no more incidents take place,” national police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said.

National military police spokesman Kheng Tito said about 500 officers would assist today’s security efforts.

City Hall issued a directive on Wednesday banning trucks and other heavy vehicles from the city’s roads between 5 a.m. and noon to avoid congestion, while earlier this month, a two-day alcohol prohibition was announced for Saturday and Sunday to prevent disorder during the election.

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