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Stung Treng Villagers Say They Are Being Pressured to Vote CPP

Supporters of the ruling Cambodian People's Party wave from a vehicle during a commune elections campaign rally in Phnom Penh, Friday, May 18, 2012.

Villagers in Stung Treng province have accused local officials of trying to force them to vote for the ruling party in commune elections next month.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a resident of Keng Nge village, in Siem Pang district, said officials of the Cambodian People’s Party told villagers they would know who they voted for, following a meeting called at the local pagoda. This was intended to push the villagers to vote for the CPP, the attendee said.

Competing parties are in the midst of a 15-day campaign period ahead of the June 3 elections.

Those who attended the meeting in Siem Peng were given CPP hats and T-shirts and told to vote for the ruling party, the attendees said.

District Governor Shi Soun acknowledged he had told villagers to vote for the CPP, but he denied breaking the election laws meant to prevent improper influence over voters.

“Most of the villagers are members of the CPP,” he said.

Puy Chantha Lak, head of the provincial election committee in Stung Treng, said he was not aware of the incident but would investigate. If party members are pressuring villagers into voting for them, they are in the wrong, he said.

The National Election Committee has so far received 18 complaints of irregularities during the campaign period, said the governing body’s secretary-general, Tep Nitha: three from the CPP, 14 from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party and one from local authorities. Nine complaints have been resolved by commune election committees, he said.

However, Yim Sovann, spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party, said the NEC had not settled his party’s complaints. The party had filed many complaints of irregularities that have been ignored, he said.