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Police Hunt for Facebook User Calling for Election Boycott


An anonymous Facebook user posted a photo saying: "It is my rights to not go to vote because there is no party that I like." (Courtesy of Facebook)

Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior ruling Cambodian People’s Party figures have labeled those participating in the boycott as “traitors”.

Police are searching for at least one Facebook user who they identified as calling for a boycott of the July election.

General Khieu Sopheak, an interior ministry spokesman, said if the owner of the account was found the authorities would take legal action.

The Facebook user is accused of posting a status update saying he or she would not vote in the upcoming election, while the authorities have said that making posts on social media that can be interpreted as trying to influence the voting decisions of others is a criminal offense.

Anyone found to have done so will be “re-educated” and fined as punishment, Sopheak said.

“The legal action is to fine people. There may be more penalties. We will think about it,” he added.

The moves come after Sam Rainsy, the former head of the now-dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, appealed via his Facebook page for people not to go out and vote. He also launched a campaign for “clean fingers”, a reference to the ink that is used to mark the fingers of Cambodians after they cast a ballot.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior ruling Cambodian People’s Party figures have labeled those participating in the boycott as “traitors”.

However, civil society groups say citizens can exercise their right not to vote if they so wish.

Korn Savang, an election monitor with NGO Comfrel, said targeting the electorate for exercising their right to free speech is a breach of the government’s legal responsibilities.

“It’s freedom of expression, so there’s nothing wrong with it,” he said.

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