In his last speech ahead of an election campaign period that
begins Thursday, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged Cambodians to vote, no matter
their party preference.
Speaking at the opening of a development center in Pursat
province, Hun Sen told voters a high rate of participation was good for
"Please go to vote all together, to express your
opinion," Hun Sen said. "This is our right of expression. We must show
our participation in the decision of choosing parties and leaders."
Hun Sen has said he will remain silent during the one-month campaign
period, a traditional time of mass rallies and public marches by competing
political parties. There are 11 parties slated to compete for parliamentary
seats in this election.
More than 8.1 million Cambodians are registered to vote in
the July 27 election, but the 2007 commune elections saw the lowest
participation rate ever, less than 70 percent. The first national elections
following the Paris Peace Accords, in 1993, saw a turnout greater than 90
"If the rate of participation is low, that means
democracy is down, because people do not care about voting to choose a good
leader," said Kek Galabru, president of the rights group Licadho.
"That's why they encourage people to go vote as much as possible."