More than 1,500 Cambodian People’s Party supporters in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district were summonsed by party officials yesterday to be thanked for voting for the party, during a meeting one villager claimed was tacit intimidation.
According to a villager speaking on the condition of anonymity, invited residents were told they would have to swear on a shrine of Yeay Tep – a powerful spirit believed to answer any request but punish liars – that they had voted for the ruling party.
“I did not dare to participate because Yeay Tep is very holy. Previously, people got what they prayed for there. And I did not vote for the CPP. I voted for the Cambodia National Rescue Party, so I did not go,” she said.
“Elections were held in secret, so why did they call people to show their votes? Those who did not go, they took notice and will persecute us later.”
Others who attended the meeting and spoke on the record said no swearing took place at the meeting.
“We just talked casually,” resident Im Thuch said.
“We just thanked the people without forcing them to take an oath. We didn’t give any money either,” echoed Koh Khsach Ponlea commune clerk, Nhoung Toeukly.
A former CPP stronghold, Kandal fell to the CNRP in last Sunday’s election, with the opposition scooping up six of 11 seats in Prime Minister Hun Sen’s province. On Election Day, skirmishes broke out at several polling stations over irregularities, and the opposition has since claimed it won even more seats there than the preliminary results appear to give them.
On Friday, Prime Minister Hun Sen visited Kandal and gave a speech in which he warned uprisings would likely descend into violence.
Senior Adhoc investigator Chan Soveth said his organisation had been receiving complaints from people across the country alleging similar post-election meetings with undercurrents of intimidation.
“Each political party should accept the results which are scheduled to be released; and if they are not satisfied, they should meet face to face, legally, to avoid people feeling threatened after the elections,” he said.