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King Norodom Sihamoni watches a boat race during Phnom Penh’s Water Festival celebrations in November last year. In a public statement, he recently appealed the people of Cambodia to vote without political intimidation.
King Norodom Sihamoni watches a boat race during Phnom Penh’s Water Festival celebrations in November last year. In a public statement, he recently appealed the people of Cambodia to vote without political intimidation. Heng Chivoan

King calls for vote free from threats or intimidation

A leaked statement from King Norodom Sihamoni circulated on social media since Sunday, nearly a month after he signed it, calls on citizens to vote for their preferred party in the upcoming elections without “worry of suppression, threats or intimidation”.

The statement, signed by the King on February 20, asks Cambodians to vote and exercise their right to a secret ballot, with CNRP official and royal family member Prince Sisowath Thomico calling it a regular pre-election appeal, similar to ones issued during the reign of King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

“But, I am very surprised the King signed it on February 20 and it was only just released,” he said.

The King is currently in China for routine medical checkups, though another decree he signed while overseas – this one bestowing honorifics on late deputy prime minister Sok An – was distributed the same day as its signing.

The King did not, however, sign recent amendments to the Law on Political Parties, also passed while he was abroad, leading some to suggest he objected to the controversial legislation.

The election remarks had circulated on social media for two days before being posted to the National Election Committee’s Facebook page yesterday. Royal family spokesmen could not be reached yesterday for information on the apparent lag between signing and dissemination.

While ruling party spokesman Sok Eysan said the King was only reminding people to feel secure in casting their ballot, CNRP Vice President Mu Sochua said the timing of the message, amid heated political tensions, would resonate with voters.

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