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Opposition youth detained

A Cambodia National Rescue Party youth activist was briefly detained by police in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district yesterday and stripped of more than 300 pro-opposition CDs he was ferrying to CNRP district headquarters there, police said.

Youth activist Im Nam Kea, 29, was delivering a box of CDs containing songs about Koh Tral – an island the opposition accuses the government of having wrongfully ceded to Vietnam – to be used by the CNRP in campaigning for the upcoming district and provincial council elections, which only allow elected commune councillors to vote.

Kea was questioned for about an hour before being released. Officials yesterday gave differing reasons for his detention.

“The police and village security guard suspected him of delivering illegal drugs in the commune and called on him to stop, but he tried to run away, so we have to detain him for questioning, but it was not an arrest,” said Huy Mora, chief of Russey Keo’s Chraing Chamres I commune.

National Election Committee secretary-general Tep Nytha said Kea was detained because a CNRP banner attached to his motorbike constituted unauthorised campaigning, and “he did not inform local authorities” beforehand.

Meanwhile, district CNRP chief Kin Narun said that Kea had been initially accused of making insults in public.

In an April 12 NEC ruling, the election body instructed political campaigners not to use disparaging speech about their rivals, or to speak “about any shocking background events such as murder, beating, mistreatment or destruction of property of anybody or any group”.

“There was no insulting in public; he put all the CDs in a box on his motorbike, but he had only tied up the CNRP’s banner on his motorbike during a campaign, and the authorities came to detain him,” Narun said.

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