Tea Banh Warns Military Against Electioneering

Defense Minister General Tea Banh on Tuesday warned Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) soldiers and military police against using ministry resources and vehicles to campaign for political parties in the upcoming national elections.

While the law strictly prohibits such behavior, it is regularly ob­served by election monitors and loosely enforced by election officials.

Speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony for a new military police headquarters in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district, Gen. Banh said: “I order you not to use state property, state vehicles or buildings belonging to the De­fense Ministry to join this year’s election or to support political parties.”

He added that RCAF soldiers and military police officers would be expected to provide security on voting day, which is set for July 28.

SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, who had a dispute with an RCAF soldier in Kampot province in the 2008 national elections and filed a complaint against him, said she doubted that attention would be paid to the warning.

“RCAF officers with a high rank still use [resources] now to strength­en the CPP, which goes down to commune level every day,” she said, adding that she wanted Gen. Banh to punish those who go against his word.

National Election Committee Secretary-General Tep Nytha said he heard of only two complaints of military officials using state re­sources to campaign during the 2008 elections—one in Preah Vihear province and one in Kampot province.

“We fined them because they violated the election rules,” he said. “One man used an RCAF number plate, which he put on his car to campaign, and one woman used a state motorcycle, so the NEC fined them,” he said.

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