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As Election Approaches, Violent Legacy Remains

[Editor's note: In the weeks leading into national polls, VOA Khmer will explore a wide number of election issues. The "Election Issues 2008" series will air stories on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a related "Hello VOA" guest on Thursday. This is the first in a two-part series examining election monitors.]

There has been tranquility ahead of national election campaigns, but election monitors say there is still violence as Election Day approaches.

Election monitors have been recording pre-election violence. So far, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections has recorded 29 cases of violence.

Most of the cases have occurred in Kampong Thom, Kampong Speu, Kompong Chnang, Kampong Cham and Kandal provinces.

“The intimidation of activists of the political parties are very disturbing aims at the approach of elections,” said Mar Sophal, a Comfrel monitor.

Meanwhile, Yang Kim Eng, director of the Youth Council of Cambodia, said that although there are cases of irregularities, including the destruction of party signs, the violence that has marred other elections is not as serious.

However, he said, the National Election Committee must still resolve some complaints of violence by political parties.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha told VOA Khmer the committee pushed for investigations into political violence, but some of the worst cases were the duty of the courts.

Though the violence has been less than in the past, there is still enough to affect the electoral outcome, said Hang Puthea, director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

Last year’s commune election saw a drop of voter participation: 68 percent, compared to 90 percent in 1993.