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Harmonious start to election One isolated incident in first weekend

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
The CPP is campaigning on the country’s growth. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The start of campaigning for the upcoming commune elections passed without drama over the weekend.
The ruling CPP, opposition CNRP and ten other parties began rallying their supporters for the June 4 poll.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled the kingdom for three decades, has warned that defeats for the CPP in these elections and next year’s general election could provoke “a civil war”.
CNRP president Kem Sokha, however, told supporters in Phnom Penh that if his party won next month they would protect the country’s natural resources and guarantee the rights of everyone to own property.
“We promise to protect private property ownership of everyone, whether rich or poor,” he said, “and we will save our natural resources for everyone’s interest.”
He said villagers had watched helplessly as private land was sold in controversial circumstances and local resources had been sold without them having any say in the matter. He however did not elaborate on how local resources had been allegedly sold.
The CNRP pledged to fire any commune chief who was found to have accepted bribes in return for providing public services.
Mr Sokha also repeated the party pledge to transfer power from central government to local communes and to eliminate corruption at the national level.
Mr Hun Sen stressed he had overseen a transition from a country ravaged by Pol Pot’s brutal regime to one that was thriving.
“In 38 years so far, the CPP has led the country to overcome every obstacle, to achieve great things and emerge from its dark shadows of the past to a period of great optimism,” he said.
“The kingdom is moving forward on a path to peace and democracy with strong laws.”
He pointed to the growth of public services and the development of infrastructure, including the building of roads, bridges, irrigation systems, schools and health centres.
“A vote for the CPP is a vote for all Khmer people,” Mr Hun Sen said.
He mocked the CNRP as a party which had nothing to enhance the wellbeing of Cambodians and was full of empty promises.
“Theirs is an empty party, all talk and no action – but the CPP has been responsible for countless improvements that you have seen with your own eyes,” he said.
National Election Committee spokesman Hang Puthea said the evidence so far was that campaigning had gone more smoothly than in previous elections, something he attributed to a greater maturity in the electoral system..
He said there had been just one dispute so far, with both parties threatening to sue each other in Takeo province. If it remained unresolved he would refer the matter to the NEC to consider.
Ms Bich Chhim, the CPP’s deputy chief in Koh Andet district complained that 15 CNRP workers had prevented the CPP from conducting a campaign march on Saturday morning.
She demanded legal action be taken, with 20 million riel compensation being paid by each of those accused and their names deleted from the voter list.
Political analyst Meas Ny echoed Mr Puthea’s upbeat assessment of how campaigning had gone in its first weekend and praised the government for facilitating security measures for all parties.
“The important thing that people want to see from the ruling party is that they challenge injustices in society,” Mr Ny said.
 “The Opposition party needs to explain to villagers how they plan to reach their goals and not just make promises they can’t keep.”

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