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Crime Reported Down, as Police Eye Elections

Prime Minister Hun Sen warned police to ensure peaceful elections in June, while cautioning against political parties who have called for "people power" change in the government.

The prime minister issued his warning in a closing address at the Ministry of Interior's annual meeting, where police reported a nationwide fall in major crime.

"Don't play people power," he told the gathered officials, saying Cambodia was not the the Ukraine, Indonesia or the Philippines.

It would take more than 2,000 people to topple the governemnt, he said, when there are 8 million voters. If the ruling Cambodian People's Party loses the election, he will turn over the government, and he appealed to the would-be winner to form a government quickly.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Thursday he would accept free-and-fair results in July's national polls, but if the election was not free and fair, he would urge "people power."

"Only dictators are afraid of people power," he said.

Hun Sen meanwhile appealed to police to be cautious about crime during the election, even as the ministry reported a fall in major crime in 2007.

The Ministry of Interior reported this week that major crimes like murder, rape and armed robbery decreased last year, compared to 2006.

Murders dropped from 458 in 2006 to 408 in 2007; reported rapes dropped from 262 to 250; and armed robberies fell from 713 to 641.

"This is a source of pride for Cambodia," said Lt. Gen. Sok Phal, deputy chief of national police, after the close of the meeting.