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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hok Lundy: killings not political

Hok Lundy: killings not political

The chief of police, General Hok Lundy, announced on June 4 that 30,000 security

personnel would be deployed ahead of the election to ensure the process was peaceful.

He said the operation would cost around $2 million.

That followed the release of a controversial May 30 report by the government's Central

Bureau for Security (CBS), which found that none of the 17 suspected political killings

or 13 attempted murders in the past four months was in fact politically motivated.

It ascribed them all to disputes, revenge attacks, domestic violence or robbery.

The report by the CBS, which is headed by Lundy, names party members killed and injured

over that period. The ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) had nine killed and five

attempted killings; its coalition partner Funcinpec suffered five killed and three

attempted killings; and the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) saw three dead and

five attempted murders.

The Bureau was established late last year and is tasked with ensuring security and

investigating suspected political violence. It is dominated by senior CPP figures,

whose presence has caused some concern among political observers. The ruling party

has been blamed regularly in the past for instigating election-related violence.

"All the problems that took place were of a personal nature or for other reasons

that are not related to any political issue," said Lundy, a senior CPP member,

adding that talk of political motives had poisoned the current environment.

Among the cases referred to in the report was that of senior Funcinpec advisor Om

Radsady, who was shot dead in Phnom Penh on February 18. At the time, party members

of all persuasions joined diplomats and observers in decrying the assassination as

political.

But the CBS report concluded that his murder was the result of a robbery attempt.

That assertion was rejected by Serey Kosal, Funcinpec's deputy director-general.

He told the Post on June 5 that the assassination was a clear case of political intimidation

against the royalist party.

"We don't accept the CBS report that Radsady's killing was robbery, because

the [CBS] was established by the CPP," said Kosal. "The CPP wants to hide

this case, but we will re-awaken it during the election campaign."

Kem Sokha, the director of Cambodian Center for Human Rights and a former Funcinpec

senator, said the investigation showed the CBS was not independent. He said the report

was simply a ruse to try and convince people the government had done its duty.

"Civil society and the international community will continue to doubt the finding

in these cases, particularly the Radsady case, for as long as we do not have a transparent

investigation," Sokha said.

The worth of the report was also questioned by Hang Puthea, the head of election

monitoring NGO Nicfec, and Koul Panha, who heads Comfrel, another election monitoring

NGO. Both said the CBS investigations would not ease doubts.

Hok Lundy's announcement about improved security followed a joint directive at the

end of last month between the National Election Committee (NEC) and the Ministry

of Interior (MoI). The purpose of the directive, said Police Chief of Staff Mao Chandara,

was to ensure local authorities and police at all levels worked together to maintain

a peaceful environment.

The MoI followed that with a seminar on June 4 to instruct 700 high-ranking police,

gendarmerie, and army personnel on security planning for the election.

One key aspect of the joint directive, which was signed by the MoI and the NEC on

May 27, is that local authorities must carry out the security plan as set out by

the CBS.

Another is that regular meetings must be held in each province to discuss the local

security situation, and the provincial or municipal arms of the CBS must exchange

information with the provincial arms of the NEC.

A further provision is that provincial and municipal governors, along with the provincial

CBS head must disseminate security information to the public weekly.

The MoI has regularly been accused in past elections of acting partially. But Sak

Setha, director-general of the ministry's administration department, said the MoI

and the NEC had appealed to all commune council members and village chiefs to work

together with the election authorities.

Setha said they had been instructed not to try to influence voters, confiscate voter

registration cards or any other documents, question voters, interfere with their

rights, use direct or indirect intimidation, or threaten them.

But political observers are concerned that lower-level authorities will ignore such

a ruling and escape sanction for doing so. The US-based International Republican

Institute noted in April that village chiefs were a key source of intimidation at

the local level.

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