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SRP says vote-buying fine not nearly enough

A Cambodian People’s Party member found guilty of attempted vote-buying in last Monday’s Senate election had been let off too lightly with a fine and should face legal action, an opposition Sam Rainsy Party councillor said yesterday.

At a hearing of the Battambang Provincial Election Commission last week, CPP member Cheam Pe A was fined US$1,230 after he was caught on tape offering SRP Tuol Ta Ek commune councillor Mok Ra $700 to cast his vote for the ruling party.

SRP Battambang provincial council member Chea Chiv said he would appeal against the decision, insisting the National Election Committee should pursue Cheam Pe A in the courts and temporarily remove his right to vote.

“We received the decision of  the PEC, but we request that the NEC add punishments against Mr Cheam Pe A, deleting his name from the voter registry for five years,” he said.

CPP member Run Thel, who can also allegedly be heard speaking in the taped conversation with Mok Ra, should also  face penalties, Chea Chiv said.

Cheam Pe A could not be reached for comment, but his lawyer, Ham Mony, said his client had accepted the PEC’s decision and would pay the fine.

“I have already discussed with my client about this case. So I have decided not to appeal any more. The PEC has already decided, and we will comply according to this decision,” Ham Mony said.

In the lead-up to Monday’s Senate election, the SRP repeatedly made allegations that CPP members were paying money to secure votes from opposition councillors or convince them to defect.

On Friday last week, three SRP commune councillors from Kandal province defected to the CPP, citing a lack of democratic structure and disregard of members as the factors that led to their decisions.

As expected, the CPP dominated the Senate election, with preliminary results from the NEC suggesting they had won 46 of 57 contested seats, although the SRP has hailed the result as victory for the party after increasing its standing from two seats to 11.

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