Voters in Battambang province say CPP officials appeared in their villages in the days before the election bearing gifts of rice and riel.
The gifts were sometimes accompanied with words of warning to vote for the CPP, and sometimes no warning was given, the villagers said.
“I got 1 kg of rice and 1,000 riel [about $0.25] on Friday,” said Dy Eap, a villager in Sangke district. “They asked me to go to a meeting, but I did not go. I accepted the gift, but I did not vote for them. This money and rice could not buy me. And how can it feed me? It’s just 1 kilo and 1,000 riel.”
Other people in Sangke district also said they received gifts from CPP officials for every eligible voter in their household. Some people were told to stay at home rather than go to the polls.
The villagers were called to meet at a central location in each village to receive their gifts; in some areas the village chiefs delivered the rice and riel if people did not come to pick it up.
Funcinpec parliamentarian Phan Chantha on Tuesday accused CPP officials of vote buying.
On Wednesday he accused Num Tul, a CPP member who works in the Ministry of Social Affairs, of handing out gifts of 1,000 to 10,000 riel (about $0.25 to $2.50) in Tamoun commune, Tmor Kol district, on the night before the election. Phan Chantha said he has a list of villagers who received the gifts.
Num Tul could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
An NEC official said Wednesday that the commune election law does not contain specific language about gifts from political parties.
It does say that the parties cannot force people to vote against their will. If anyone felt they were threatened, they should file a complaint with local commune election officials, the NEC official said.
“This money is like what they give at a funeral,” said an elderly man in Banan district, Battambang province, who asked not to be named.
He said the amount of money was so small that it felt like the party disrespected the people, but he still took the gift.
“I think this money and this rice is good for the poorest people,” said an elderly woman in Sangke district. “I will vote for whoever gives me a gift. It’s better than someone who gives me nothing.”
(Additional reporting by Yun Samean)