Hun Sen scolds group inciting voters to abstain

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen. Fresh News

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday chided a Norway-based organisation that recently called on people not to vote in the upcoming national election because it will be illegitimate without participation from the dissolved CNRP.

Last week, the Norway-based Cambodia Watchdog Council International appealed to Cambodian people not to vote in the upcoming national election.

A letter issued by CWCI chairman Men Nath said Mr Hun Sen needed the votes of more than 50 percent of the total number of eligible voters across the country to make the election legitimate and to win.

Councillors vote in the recent Senate election in Phnom Penh. KT/Mai Vireak

The group called on eligible voters not to cast their ballots on July 29, saying the poll would not be free and fair without the presence of the former opposition party, which was dissolved in November after its leader Kem Sokha was jailed on treason charges.

Speaking to garment workers in Kampong Speu province yesterday, Mr Hun Sen chided CWCI and its claims that his party could lose the election if voters abstained from the polls.

“You want the people not to go to vote for the voter turnout to decrease, but your strategy to make the CPP lose by having voters stay at home is wrong; you are ignorant,” the premier said.

“Even in France and the United States, presidents there win the elections even when there is low voter turnout,” he added. “You should adjust your strategy. Those that may listen to you are only your supporters, my supporters will not sleep and will still come to vote.

“You will see when the ballots come out of the boxes, the votes will be for the CPP,” he added.

For the previous national election in 2013, the National Election Committee announced that some 9.67 million Cambodians were eligible to cast their ballots to elect the 123-seat National Assembly.

Voter turnout was reported to be 68.5 percent, making it the lowest turnout in history. The ruling CPP won 68 seats and the CNRP won the remaining 55 seats. The opposition boycotted the result, citing polling irregularities.

Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said Mr Hun Sen was right for rebuking the appeal made by CWCI because asking voters to abstain was detrimental to democracy.

“The democratic election process encourages voters to vote,” he said. “No one should suppress the right to vote. If the voter decides not to vote of their own accord, that’s fine, but when they are pressured by others, that’s wrong.”

“The [CWCI] appeal for people not to vote affects the election process and legal procedures,” he added.

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