SRP Lawmaker Says Police Disrupted Local Vote

Opposition party lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang has appealed for intervention from Prime Minister Hun Sen after police in Battambang prov­ince reportedly tried to stop the se­lec­tion of local opposition party representatives in two communes on Tuesday.

Opposition officials in Ratanak Mondol district had been trying to se­lect representatives in seven villages in Sdao and Treng communes when three police officials arrived at each village telling them the vote had not been authorized, the opposition party’s provincial coordinator, Sar Chandet, said.

“I want the prime minister to in­ter­vene with the authorities. The [police] disobeyed the government order,” said Eng Chhay Eang, who represents Battambang.

“This is contrary to Hun Sen’s policy that allows all political parties to act freely. Only communist regimes require people to have permission,” he said, though he added that the incident would not affect the recent rapproachment between the opposition and the CPP.

Kep Phengly, Ratanak Mondol governor, said police tried to prevent the selection because it had not been given the go-ahead by provincial authorities. He accused opposition officials of disturbing public order by using a megaphone to urge supporters to vote.

“They didn’t have permission. They didn’t comply with the law,” he said.

Sar Chandet accused the police of intimidation.

“Police officers shouted so the peo­ple were afraid to participate,” he said, adding that despite the disruption, five village representatives were chosen.

“They don’t want us to organize the structure in the villages. They are afraid that we will win a lot of support in the upcoming [2007] com­mune election,” he said.

Government spokesman and In­formation Minister Khieu Kanharith said the police do not have the right to disrupt elections that are held inside a party’s local headquarters, where Sar Chandet said they took place.

Khieu Kanharith added that disputes between local officials from the two parties would not affect co­operation between Hun Sen and op­position leader Sam Rainsy.

“[Disputes] at ground level do not affect the top level,” he said.

 

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