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Rainsy asylum claim

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said yesterday a Cambodian man and his family had gained political asylum in the United States after escaping arrest three years ago when he stepped forward to allege electoral fraud by the ruling party during the 2008 national ballot.

In a statement yesterday, Rainsy said Kong Kiet, of the capital’s Meanchey district, along with his wife and three children, had not been a registered voter during the 2008 election, but  “CPP-controlled authorities” had given him and others money and fake identification, allowing them to cast ballots for the CPP at polling stations.

“Because he dared to publicly expose the truth and to   . . . . testify in the complaint that the SRP lodged against the CPP authorities, the police came to arrest Mr Kong Kiet, who luckily managed to escape,” Rainsy said, adding that Kong Kiet and his family had lived in a “neighbouring country” before attaining asylum.

Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said he did not know who Kong Kiet was and denied that CPP leaders had ordered the NEC or local authorities to do anything illegal during elections.

“We see that this is just defamation against the ruling party,” he added.

Tep Nytha, secretary general of the National Election Committee, said he was also unaware of the case and that the SRP had never filed a complaint to the NEC.

But senior SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua was quick to refute the last assertion, pointing out that the complaint in question had been publicly posted on opposition-related news blog KI-Media and that she clearly remembered the case.

“[Sam Rainsy] made a nat-ionwide appeal for people who had been given wrong identification to come forward, and Mr Kiet was one of the people [who did].

“They wanted to arrest him,” she said. “I remember so well because Mr Rainsy spent a lot of time nailing down these irregularities.”

Mu Sochua added that the credibility of voter lists was crucial with commune elections looming

“Mr Kiet’s case was not an isolated one,” she said. “That’s why we want a fundamental review of the system.”

US embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh could not be reached for comment on Kong Kiet’s status.

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