Cambodia

Commune Chiefs Receive Vehicles, Equipment as Opposition Organizes

The computer equipment will help with registrations, issuing identification and other services, while the vehicles can be used to transport injured or sick people to health clinics.

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha, right, greets a party member as he attends the new party's congress in Phnom Penh. Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha, right, greets a party member as he attends the new party's congress in Phnom Penh.
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Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha, right, greets a party member as he attends the new party's congress in Phnom Penh.
Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha, right, greets a party member as he attends the new party's congress in Phnom Penh.
Heng ReaksmeyVOA Khmer
PHNOM PENH - Officials from the opposition Human Rights Party on Tuesday delivered printers and vehicles to 18 commune chiefs who won in June’s elections, to help them administer their areas, as officials began looking toward next year’s national polls.

The computer equipment will help with registrations, issuing identification and other services, while the vehicles can be used to transport injured or sick people to health clinics, said Pol Ham, a spokesman for the party.

“We work for all people and do not discriminate,” he said.

Opposition officials have long complained of ruling party administrators withholding services for known opposition supporters.

“I will try my best to serve my people,” said Kong Bun Chhoeun, chief of of Kor commune, Prey Chhor district, Kampong Cham province, after he received his equipment Tuesday.

The distribution comes as the opposition parties continue to organize for 2013 elections, including moves toward a merger.

Pol Ham told “Hello VOA” Monday a merger between the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties will help opposition supporters compete with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in next years election, an HRP spokesman says.

The joining of the parties will create a “democratic force,” he said, although he admitted the merger could face obstacles in its official establishment. Election experts have said the creation of an all new party would mean current party lawmakers would lose their seats in parliament.

Opposition officials have so far not made the legal step to officially establish a new party, but they have agreed in principle to a merger, in hopes of increasing National Assembly seats under an election formula that favors larger parties.

“Let me make it clear that we want change, but we don’t want to change the regime,” he said. “We want the change the manner of governance, the dictatorship, corrupt administration, the elimination of freedoms, and land grabbing. We respect the constitution.”

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party, said the unification of the opposition was done “according to the will of the people.”

"We will work together as one to contest the ruling party in the upcoming election,” he told “Hello VOA” Monday. “I believe there will be 3 million voters for the new party. Then the new party…will have victory.”

The opposition will face challenges, he said, especially under complex voting rules, regulations and practices that benefit the ruling party, including vote buying, fraud in voter lists and others.

However, “two clear movements” have now emerged in Cambodian politics, he said: “the dictatorship movement and the democratic movement.”
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