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Campaigning Proceeds, With Small Snafus


Minor campaign irregularities continued nationwide Tuesday, but authorities say these incidents are the exception, not the rule, and upcoming elections will not be interrupted.

"Security protection in the election is good in general," Deputy National Police Chief Sok Phal told VOA Tuesday. "For instance, shooting, killing, physical attacks and loudspeaker attacks on each other have not occurred."

Election committee workers at the commune level can solve these problems, Sok Phal said.

Nearly 8 million Cambodians are preparing to vote for local leaders in all of the country's 1,621 communes April 1, in elections aimed at decentralizing government power. Thousands on thousands of commune council candidates from 12 different parties have been stumping for votes since March 16.

Kuol Panha, executive director of the independent Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that while there were reports of irregularities, the elections weren't likely to be damaged as a result.

Still, "people who intimidate political activists should be punished," he said.

Officials from several parties told VOA Tuesday their activists had experienced intimidation.

Cambodian People's Party supporters in Pailin allegedly attacked Sam Rainsy Party members.

Villagers in Battambang province claim land they recently resettled on was sold out from under them by unscrupulous officials and have asked Prime Minister Hun Sen to help them vote for change. They are not registered for that area, however, and election officials say there is little that can be done for this election.

In Oddar Meanchey, Norodom Ranariddh Party officials say CPP supporters are using government vehicles to help them campaign.

Meanwhile, campaigning continues, and in the capital Tuesday Sam Rainsy Party activists appealed to workers to join them on voting day.

"I appeal to workers to make sacrifices with their time and money to return to their villages and vote there," Sam Rainsy said. "The election is important and useful. We decide our own destinies."

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