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NEC Warns Against Drinking, Violence

As the election campaign period began Thursday, the National Election Committee called for all political candidates not to drink alcohol and to avoid violence and threats against other candidates and voters.

The separate appeals come as election watchdogs expressed concern for the increase of intimidation and murders of political party activists.

All political parties and candidates must avoid threats or intimidation or violence, Im Sousdey, chairman of the NEC, said in a statement to political parties issued Wednesday.

He warned candidates and parties not to incite supporters and voters to violence or intimidation.

In another letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, Im Sousdey requested the leader issue a statement for the public to discourage drinking the day before the election and on Election Day itself.

Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a statement Wednesday warning all security forces and local authorities to prevent threats and irregularities and any attempts to disturb the election period and Election Day.

The appeal and other government security measures were an important move toward free and fair elections, said Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

"But we are still concerned that threats and intimidation will occur in the campaign and on Election Day," he said, "because threats and intimidation against political activists has increased since April."