Following a request last week made by the National Election Committee to the prevent an election boycott, Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday ordered security forces to safeguard public order and detain anyone who incites disruptions of the upcoming national election.
Speaking at the inauguration of a government building in Pursat province, Mr Kheng told a crowd of civil servants that people who are registered to vote must exercise their right to do so on July 29.
“Those who want to prevent people from voting in the upcoming election violate our constitution,” he said. “Article 142 says that you could be fined by the NEC.”
“It’s your right whether you want to vote or not, but preventing others from voting is illegal,” he added.
During his speech, Mr Kheng also took shots at the dissolved CNRP by attributing mass demonstrations five years ago to the former opposition party’s attempt to disrupt the democratic process.
In November, the CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court and 118 senior party members were banned from political activity after party leader Kem Sokha was arrested over treason for colluding with the United States to overthrow the government.
Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of election watchdog NICFEC, said that he agreed that people who use violence or physically prevent others from voting should be arrested, but noted that there has never been any concrete evidence showing voters being prevented from exercising their democratic right.
“Until now, we haven’t seen anyone who dares to prevent other people from voting,” he said.
Mr Kuntheamy added that boycott calls will not have any effect on voters.
“I think it won’t have any influence because it’s up to the hearts and minds of the people,” he said.