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Polling stations set for soldiers at Preah Vihear

Soldiers stationed around the Preah Vihear temple on the Thai-Cambodian border on Election Day won’t have to forgo the opportunity to vote, military officials in Preah Vihear province said.

Men Sophea, a military official posted at Phnom Trop, several kilometres away from the temple complex, said that the bulk of soldiers in the area had been able to register to vote there during last year’s commune elections.

“We were assigned to patrol all day, but we will come down to vote,” he said, adding that soldiers would rotate in groups of 200 between patrols and their polling place in Choam Ksan district’s Sa Em commune, some 10 kilometres away.

Sophea said military officials would take soldiers from their base to the polls, but maintained that they had received no instructions from their superiors on which way to vote.

Another military official, who asked to be identified only as Chamroeun, said that the local registration meant there was “no need to go to our home province”, and that despite the relative calm, Thai movements required soldiers to remain on standby.

Preah Vihear Provincial Election Committee vice chairman Cho Marp said four polling stations had been set up for villagers and soldiers in Sa Em, Kantuot and Choam Ksan communes, and at an ad hoc village where retired soldiers and military families live.

Lon Sithan, Preah Vihear provincial secretary for election watchdog Comfrel, said that although some soldiers’ names were duplicated between their hometowns and their new places of residency, Comfrel has “an office in Choam Ksan to monitor that process”.

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