As Sunday’s commune election nears SRP officials made allegations of political intimidation and obstruction regarding one incident in Phnom Penh and another in Banteay Meanchey province over the weekend. Local authorities denied their allegations in both cases.
According to SRP lawmaker Ho Vann, two SRP activists received minor injuries in a scuffle with 10 security guards who confiscated leaflets from participants in an SRP campaign procession outside O’Russei market around 8 pm on Friday.
The windshield of a car in the procession was also smashed, SRP Secretary-General Mu Sochua said Sunday. She claimed that the incident was “definitely politically motivated” and that SRP activists had been blocked from entering Phnom Penh markets on previous occasions.
Keang Lak, chief of O’Russei market, denied the allegation on Monday, saying that an unidentified man who was not on the market staff confiscated and destroyed the SRP flyers, then fled into the market building. SRP activists chasing him were blocked by market security guards from entering the building, he said.
An SRP activist took a walkie-talkie from the security staff and then drove away in an SRP car, Keang Lak added.
Thong Marady, O’Russei I commune police chief, said that police had not intervened in the incident because they were not aware of it.
Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Chantha said that NRP candidates had also been prevented from entering Phnom Penh markets to campaign or distribute flyers.
“The market committee is affiliated with the CPP—it is not neutral,” he added Monday.
Minister of Information and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith denied that market officials favored the CPP, calling Friday’s incident the result of “a personal conflict, not a political [one].”
Mar Sophal, monitoring coordinator for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said Sunday that political parties should be allowed to enter markets and that market authorities must allow in all parties if they allow one.
In a separate incident, SRP officials claimed that CPP officials and supporters obstructed an SRP rally in Banteay Meanchey province’s O’Chrou district Saturday, hurling verbal abuse at SRP leader Sam Rainsy, who was leading the rally in Poipet commune.
“They followed us, harassed us, and openly insulted Sam Rainsy,” Mu Sochua said.
The CPP was scheduled to campaign near Poipet commune’s Wat Thmei on Saturday morning, but CPP activists went instead to the SRP rally site near the casinos by the Thai border, Mar Sophal said. “The CPP did not respect the schedule approved by the [Commune Election Commission],” he added.
San Seanhor, CPP deputy chief of Poipet commune, neither confirmed nor denied obstructing the SRP rally, but said that, while campaigning the previous day, Sam Rainsy had called CPP supporters “robbers and thieves,” which violated campaign ethics.
“The SRP lodged complaints against us, the CPP. We also lodge complaints against the SRP for defamation,” San Seanhor said Sunday.