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Minor Opposition Parties Speak Out Against Calls for Election Boycott

Supporters of the Grassroots Democratic Party attended a meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, August 2, 2016. (Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

The parties called on the country’s election body, the National Election Committee, to take legal action against those calling for an election boycott.

Several minor opposition parties who have registered to stand in the upcoming national election have expressed concern over calls from the country’s former main opposition party for a boycott of the vote.

The parties called on the country’s election body, the National Election Committee (NEC), to take legal action against those making such appeals.

Heang Kimsroeun, vice president of the Beehive Social Democratic Party (BSDP), said: “I want to ask the NEC why ... [they were] warned many times, but still there is no measure to be taken against politicians making appeals towards the people, asking the people not to vote,” he said, adding that such calls were “propaganda to really divide the nation.”

Sam Rainsy, the former president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was outlawed in a Supreme Court ruling last year, has made numerous calls for voters to boycott the election in recent weeks.

Nhem En, deputy secretary general of the Khmer Republic Party (KRP), also expressed his party’s disappointment with the calls for a boycott.

“This is a way of causing a gloomy climate. It's the rights of the people, so they can't prohibit the people... I would like to appeal to all the people to go to vote for transparency,” he said.

Neither the BSDP nor the KRP has yet been officially registered by the NEC as participants in the election.

Sam In, secretary general of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP), said that any election boycott would only play into the hands of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

“Our decision is to look for a way to solve problems, restore democracy via ... political engagement rather than political confrontation,” he said.

Hang Puthea, NEC spokesman, said on Thursday that external pressure on Cambodia’s electoral process would not have negative effects on the proceedings.

“There must be no scenario where we will conduct another election, and this election belongs to Cambodians. So, what's heard from foreign countries was merely a voice or opinion. But the important thing is that Cambodians must decide their fate on their own,” he said.