CPP village chiefs and commune authorities are using intimidation tactics to pressure
voters into divulging information that violates their right to a secret ballot, according
to an election monitoring organization (EMO).
Hang Puthea, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and
Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC), said there were cases of authorities going door
to door, asking people for their name and their number on their voter identification
card. In some instances, the voter identification card was seized.
"This forces and pressures people to vote for the CPP," said Puthea. "We
have made an effort to explain to people that during the election process, the vote
is carried out secretly. Now the voter thinks it is not secret because they think
that since the authorities have the number on their ID card, they will check later
to see how they voted."
Puthea told the Post Sept 24 that an estimated ten percent of the registered voters
had had their cards seized or their ID number taken down. He said that NICFEC monitoring
showed that this type of violation started when voter registration began July 21
and was still occurring.
The EMO said village chiefs were waiting outside registration stations. If a person
was using a 1998 election voter card to register, the village chiefs would take the
card and said they would not give it back until the voter promised to vote for them
NICFEC is planning to bring this issue before the National Election Committee (NEC).
"It seems that the NEC [hasn't been] responsible for maintaining the voter's
right not to be [intimidated]," said Puthea. "We do not know for sure whether
this is a strategy of the CPP or not, but I think that the authorities received the
order from high officials of the party. If no measures are taken against this irregularity,
people will hesitate to vote for who they really want to."
A high-ranking CPP official speaking on condition of anonymity to the Post Sept 25
denied the allegations. "They [the EMOs] are trying to create problems,"
the official said.
He said that this may be just a misunderstanding: some village chiefs and authorities
are visiting relatives to see if they are registered, which he thinks is normal.
"What is most important is the voter's rights. They can choose whatever political
party they like. No one would dare try to pressure the voter. Individual rights are
protected by the constitution," the official said.
Khmer Institute for Democracy Executive Director Dr Lao Mong Hay said he believed
some cases of voter intimidation had occured, but declined to comment further.
Sam Rainsy Party Secretary General Eng Chhai Eang said that he thinks that CPP officeholders
have been trying to get the voter ID card numbers as part of their strategy to intimidate
"I am told by my supporters that they [the CPP] are telling people that if they
give them their voter ID number then it is easier for [CPP] later on to give rice
and food to that voter," said Eang.