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Opposition Calls for End of ‘Obstruction’ from Ruling Party Supporters

Kem Sokha, vice president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party talks during a demonstration in Phnom Penh, demanding reforms to the National Election Committee ahead of July’s parliamentary polls. (Heng Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
PHNOM PENH - Embattled opposition official Kem Sokha on Wednesday called on the government to work toward ensuring a free and fair election, without obstruction or intimidation of its opponents.

Kem Sokha, vice president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, saw two forums organized by the opposition disrupted by ruling party supporters in Kandal province on Tuesday.

Some 200 supporters of the Cambodian People’s Party with loudspeakers interrupted the forums, in what Kem Sokha described as an act of “obstruction.”

Kem Sokha told reporters Wednesday the election will not be free and fair if such intimidation continues.

“The CNRP calls on the government to take measures for stability and security for free and fair elections,” he said.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, a spokesman for the CPP, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Tep Nitha, secretary-general of the National Election Committee, which in part is tasked with ensuring a fair electoral process, said Wednesday the disruptions of the Kandal forums do not fall under the purview of his agency because they did not occur within the 30-day campaign period prior to the July 27 elections.

Kem Sokha remains under pressure to apologize to victims of the Khmer Rouge, for allegedly claiming that atrocities at one of the regime’s torture centers were staged by Vietnamese forces. He has dismissed the allegations as a fabrication by the ruling party ahead of the July elections.