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With Election Four Days Away, Voters Ask Candidates to Think Locally

[Editor's note: For full audio to VOA Khmer's coverage of this story, scroll throughout.]

With just four days to the election, voters told VOA they were worried their leaders would get caught up in political hubbub rather than actually helping their communes.

Leaders of the four largest parties, meanwhile, remained optimistic of their chances for success, as opposition leaders worried about Election Day intimidation and called on monitors to be vigilant.

Potential voters said Wednesday they would prefer their commune leaders to remember the plights of everyday Cambodians.

"I observe that there is no progress in my commune," motorcycle taxi driver Lim Touch told VOA. "I don't know what will happen as far as the election is concerned. I will know on Election Day. I have a request for the commune council members to work seriously in our commune."

Siem Reap hairdresser Sok Ra said she would like future commune council members not to levy high taxes on vendors. She was sure to vote, she said.

"We as people, we have to vote, that is the way it is," she said. "We cannot ignore it, because we love our country."

At least one motorcycle taxi driver said he would, indeed, ignore the vote. Vin Man said he had not even applied for a voter registration card.

"I have been busy making a living," he said.

To listen to Kong Soth report in Khmer, .

The four main parties, meanwhile, said they were confident they would post high numbers when more than 8 million Cambodians vote Sunday.

Cambodian People's Party lawmaker Chiem Yeap said his party would likely win a similar number to 2002 commune elections, when the CPP won 1,594 of 1,621 communes.

The Norodom Ranaridh Party said it was confident it would post strong numbers, despite a party leader abroad and facing an 18-month prison term if he returns.

The government's coalition partner, Funcinpec, had "a lot of hope," party Secretary-General Nhek Bun Chhay said. To listen to Heng Reaksmey report in Khmer, click here.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said his party would fare well in fair elections, but such elections were not likely.

"The result is not predictable," Sam Rainsy said, "or fair for the parties that do not support the ruling party."

To listen to Heng Reaksmey report in Khmer, .

While the run-up to these commune elections has been relatively peaceful, opposition leaders said they were concerned violence and intimidation could mar Election Day, Sunday.

Tep Nitha, secretary-general of the National Election Committee, said there would be thousands of observers dispatched nationwide to ensure fair elections.

To listen to Chun Sakada report in Khmer, .

A CPP official said the ruling party would likely come out far ahead, and discounted worries of other officials of violence and intimidation.

"It is normal, in a rally [where two parties meet], and there are scores of supporters, there would be some minor confrontation," Tep Ngorn, CPP campaign manager said. "Compromise" was the answer, he said. "One side should stop and one should keep calm."

To listen to Seng Ratana report in Khmer, .