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Competing Parties Clamor for Rural Support

Campaigning began in earnest in the provinces Thursday, with large and small parties employing separate strategies to capture the attention of voters.

VOA Khmer reporters in Battambang, Kampong Cham, Pailin, Siem Reap and Kampot provinces, reported party rallies and meetings in provincial capitals and canvassing of smaller villages.

In Battambang, the Cambodian People's, Funcinpec, Norodom Ranariddh, Sam Rainsy and Society of Justice parties organized convoys of trucks, cars and motorcycles stocked with supporters, projecting political messages from loudspeakers. Every party campaigned in the province except the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party.

In Kampong Cham, only Funcinpec and NRP held mass gatherings in the capital, driving through downtown Kampong Cham, crossing each other's path once, without incident.

In Pailin, only the CPP showed a presence, holding a meeting at their municipal headquarters before amassing a rally on the street. The CPP's campaign was then divided into small groups to spread throughout villages in the afternoon.

Three parties gathered in Kampot town, SRP, Funcinpec and the Human Rights Party. The CPP planned to hold a rallies Friday in Kampot and Kampong Cham.

Minor parties chose to forego the main towns, holding instead small rallies in villages and communes in Battambang, Kampong Cham and Kampot.

In Siem Reap, the biggest rally was held by the CPP, with loudspeaker convoys, whose vehicles carried slogan banners, passing through the streets of the main town. The SRP held a rally at its provincial headquarters, with small groups afterward passing through villages.

Funcinpec had a limited presence in Siem Reap on opening day, as minor parties distributed leaflets in villages.