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NEC asks Interior Ministry to punish election boycott callers

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
People line up to vote in the June 2017 commune elections. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The National Election Committee has asked the Interior Ministry to take legal action against anyone who calls on the public to boycott the upcoming national election in July.

The NEC’s request came after former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who lives in exile, repeatedly called for the public to boycott the national election on July 29 because the dissolved CNRP could not be reinstated to contest the election.

According to a statement dated on May 8, NEC chairman Sik Bunhok said that recently there was an appeal and distribution of leaflets urging people to boycott the poll.

“The NEC considers appealing to people to boycott the election as preventing people who are eligible to vote from voting,” Mr Bunhok said. “It causes confusion which leads to distrusting the election and affects public order and national security.”

“Please Deputy Prime Minister [Interior Minister Sar Kheng], take legal action against this activity,” Mr Bunhok added.

General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said that the ministry will cooperate with the NEC to prevent any illegal activities from hindering the electoral process.

“Someone who dares to do any activities to obstruct the electoral process, such as distributing leaflets or intimidating the people from going to vote, we will take action against them according to the law,” Gen Sopheak said, noting that Mr Rainsy will be thrown into prison if he ever comes back to Cambodia.

The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November after its leader Kem Sokha was arrested over treason charges and accused of conspiring with the US to topple the government through a colour revolution. Its 118 senior party members were barred from politics for five years.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea told reporters at a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday that any propaganda intended to divide the country was deemed contrary to the law.

“Twenty political parties have registered at the NEC and about 80 percent of the people are prepared to vote,” Mr Puthea said.

Mr Puthea added that outsiders had no influence on the electoral process in Cambodia.

“The important thing is that Cambodian people decide their own country’s destiny,” Mr Puthea said.

Ou Chanrath, a former CNRP lawmaker, disagreed with calling on the people not to vote, saying that people must make their own decisions.

“In my opinion, I think it is unnecessary to call on people to boycott the poll because it is their right whether they want to vote or not,” Mr Chanrath said.

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