Civil society monitoring the national election and a senior official of the National Election Committee yesterday lashed out at former opposition leader Sam Rainsy who has repeatedly called for an election boycott.
The reactions came after Mr Rainsy repeatedly appealed to all voters to not take part in the election on July 29.
Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of election watchdog Nicfec, said that such an appeal demonstrated the selfishness of the now-dissolved CNRP because it was trying to prevent people from joining the election.
“Even though people go to vote for particular parties standing for election, it is their right to make a personal decision. We should not call on the people not to vote,” Mr Kuntheamy said.
He said that Mr Rainsy’s appeal was made because he and the dissolved CNRP could not take part in the election.
“The main thing is the voters’ rights to make a decision whether to vote or not to vote. I think his appeal is politically motivated and does not affect the voters because people are very smart,” he said.
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea yesterday said that according to the law, anyone can be fined between $1,250 and $5,000 for preventing citizens from voting.
“The statement of Mr Sam Rainsy seems to underestimate the people,” he said. “Based on the law, people have a chance every five years to vote for their representatives and the people are ready and have the right to make a decision to vote.”
Mr Puthea added that 16 parties came to receive application forms from the NEC thus far to field candidates for the national election.
“This activity demonstrates that political parties and the people are ready to join the election. Why does Mr Sam Rainsy act contrary to current society,” he said.
Mr Rainsy posted a message on his Facebook page last week, saying “there are only two real choices. First, abstention means that you support the CNRP in your hearts and want this party to lead the country towards positive change. Second, going to vote (for whatever party) means that you support the CPP and want this party to continue to lead the country in the same way as it does now”.
Mr Rainsy, who has lived in exile since 2015 following a slew of court cases levelled against him, said that an election without the CNRP was fraudulent.
The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November after its leader Kem Sokha was jailed on treason charges for allegedly conspiring with the US to overthrow the government.
Mr Rainsy then formed the Cambodia National Rescue Movement, which has been branded a “terrorist group” by Prime Minister Hun Sen.