In the wake of what the opposition Sam Rainsy Party has called unprecedented gains in the senate election, the party has said that “virtually every SRP councillor” was approached by ruling Cambodian People’s Party officials attempting to buy their vote in the election, a party statement issued yesterday said.
The statement said that in Kandal province, where Prime Minister Hun Sen lives and votes, SRP councillors were offered US$5,000 a vote to swing their support to the CPP.
“Many forms of intimidation were also used to frighten the opposition into voting for the CPP,” the statement said, adding that “virtually every SRP councillor in all provinces was approached by CPP officials and offered between $500 and $5,000 to sell their votes to the ruling party”.
The premier has publicly thanked the 179 SRP councillors he says voted for his party, despite the SRP’s allegations of rampant bribery including one taped vote-buying attempt in Battambang province.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that SRP gains in the senate election were a taste of what was to come in the upcoming commune elections if the CPP continued to walk a “dangerous political line”.
“[The CPP] is persecuting people with forced evictions and land grabbing,” he said. “SRP’s political platform is related to gains in agriculture, health and generating employment, which the government so far has not been able to do.”
CPP senior lawmaker Cheam Yeap, said that SRP gains were not the result of corresponding CPP losses.
“The place where Sam Rainsy took senate seats is from the Norodom Ranariddh Party,” Cheam Yeap said, referring to the current political party of Hun Sen’s former co-prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
“It is not the loyalty or confidence from people,” he said.
“This is [Norodom Ranariddh’s] fortune that he has not received support from people.”
Cheam Yeap added that the senate competition for seats was between the CPP and SRP, and while the CPP garnered an additional 797 votes, the SRP lost 179 votes. Official results of the senate elections have not been made public.