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Village Chiefs Govern Like the Khmer Rouge, Sam Rainsy Says

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy Tuesday compared the work of many Cambodian village chiefs to the leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

The chiefs threaten villagers and rule through the same tactics of fear as the Khmer Rouge, he said at a ceremony commemorating the fall of Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975.

"The current village chiefs are good at threatening the people and following the Khmer Rouge village chiefs' thinking," Sam Rainsy said. "Most people do not like the current village chiefs."

Some ruling party members took umbrage to the opposition leader's remarks.

"He should investigate every village. If there is suppression in any village, he should go there and ask the people," Phnom Penh's Stung Meanchey district chief, Yin Kith Seng, said. "We reconcile the people. I let the people choose the party. Go ahead and ask around. When something is wrong I say it is wrong. I do not discriminate. Go ahead and ask Sam Rainsy party local officials. They know about me, there is no problem."

Commune elections April 1 unseated some chiefs, including a small increase for the Sam Rainsy Party, but many of the old chiefs, and their old ways, remain.