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CPP Offered Gifts for Vote: Kampot Villagers

On a quiet evening this week following Sunday's election, a group of old men sat on a bamboo bed in a wooden house in Kampong province sipping tea and talking politics.

Shortly before the election, 65-year-old Tean Son said, he was given a sarong by ruling party officials in exchange for a promise to vote for them in Sunday's polls.

"I felt fearful, so I had to accept their donation," Tea Son said. "If we had not accepted that donation, we would be afraid they could mistreat us and think that we did not love their party."

He would not say who he actually voted for.

Tea Son and others like him in Kampot represent evidence of just one of the irregularities the opposition have claimed hurt them in the polls Sunday. The CPP claims to have won five of six seats in Kampot province, followed by the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

Sam Rainsy Party and Norodom Ranariddh Party officials both won cases against CPP vote-buying with Kampot's election committee.

Kol Srey Aun, who, like Tea Son, lives in Samlanh commune, Angkorchey district, said that less than three weeks from Election Day, officials from the CPP commune office approached her with 15,000 riel, which she accepted.

"They told me to vote for their party and told me to be honest with their party," she said.

The 20-year-old said she took the money to help her support her 88-year-old grandmother, who raised her after her mother's death and her father's absence. She declined to say who she voted for.

Kol Srey Aun used the money to buy MSG and salt, supplementing the income she receives selling fruit at a nearby school and the money that comes from her husband, a military official in Phnom Penh whose salary is not enough to support the family.

Samlanh Commune Chief Sou Sokha said it was true that ahead of the election, her office had offered a little money to some of the commune's poorest residents, but not to buy votes

"Before we were successful [in the election], we worked hard and visited people frequently," Sou Sokha said, adding that most people in her commune told her that they were satisfied with CPP's efforts to bring peace and development the country.

In Samlanh commune, meanwhile, the CPP received 1,925 votes, followed by the Sam Rainsy Party, which won 1,116 votes.