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Hun Sen Calls for Unity, as Opposition Winners Fear Retribution

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

Prime Minister Hun Sen called for national unity Wednesday, following a relatively peaceful vote Sunday that nevertheless left some losing candidates unhappy.

The elections should bring people together, not tear them apart, Hun Sen said, as the opposition alleged some voters were cowed into staying home on Election Day.

"Do not make the election into a division in the villages," Hun Sen said at the inauguration of a road project in Sihanoukville. "The election is not the division of nationality, the nation, and the communes. The election is intended for unification, development, and peace."

Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party swept the commune council elections in unofficial tallies. Full results will be released April 24.

The prime minister called on incumbent council members to maintain post-election security, so that Cambodians can enjoy a good New Year, and he asked the newly elected to "please work hard, no matter what party you represent."

The CPP won as many as 98 percent of the commune chief seats, officials estimate.

Muth Chantha, spokesman for the new Norodom Ranariddh Party, which won no chief positions, said local politics following the election would mean CPP members should cooperate with others.

"The CPP commune members do not cooperate with other party commune members," he said. "They only work with their own clerks."

To listen to Chun Sakada report in Khmer,

At least one opposition winner in Bantey Meanchey said Wednesday he was receiving threats from local authorities.

Newly elected SRP commune chief Mab Yuy told VOA police threatened him and warned he would be robbed soon, after he won the election in his commune.

Villagers in the commune said they were afraid to speak about the police, claiming they too had been threatened. "They threaten, and the people are scared," one villager said, requesting anonymity. "We don't know how to solve this problem."

Police chief Heam Heng said his men were neutral.

"My police officers threatened them? They do not use such words," he said. "My role is to provide security, law and order for the villagers. My police officers do not have this character of robbing people."

To listen to Thida Win report in Khmer,

Meanwhile, SRP and NRP activists said voters in the border town Poipet, Battambang province, had been kept at home by threats from local CPP activists, potentially tipping the balance of polls there.

To listen to Kong Soth report in Khmer,