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Top officials accused by election watchdog

More than 100 high-ranking Cambodian People’s Party and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces officials were named and shamed by a Cambodian election monitoring organisation yesterday at a workshop on misuse of state property.

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel) distributed a detailed list of dates, names and places of the alleged activities of the officials, which the group say is in violation of clear laws governing elections and political parties.

“We will send detailed reports in English to the international community and send Khmer-language reports to [the National Election Committee], and point out to the public the use of state properties for political party,” Comfrel executive director Koul Panha said at the workshop.

A report published by Comfrel and distributed at the workshop yesterday named officials the monitoring group had observed breaching election laws by delivering gifts to citizens between September 2011 and January of this year.

Those named in the Comfrel report included Khlot Thyda, president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia; Hing Bunheang, deputy commander in chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces; Dul Koeun, a director general at the Ministry of Interior; Mok Chito, head of the central judicial department at the Ministry of Interior; Heng Ratana, director general of CMAC; Chea Chanto governor of the National Bank of Cambodia; and National Police chief Neth Savoeun.

“Through Comfrel’s observation, we found that this illegal activity has the characteristics of a system without any mechanism for control and shows that high-ranking officials in civil administration and armed forces do not have neutrality,” the report stated.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of Cambodian Defender Project who participated in the seminar yesterday appealed for the government to ensure civil servant institutions and armed forces were neutral and that political posts and technical posts must be separate.

“If armed forces are not neutral, people would be scared,” Sok Sam Oeun said, citing as an example that if any two-star general goes down to the grassroots and tells people to support the ruling party, citizens would obey because they would fear him.  

Press and Quick Reaction Unit spokesman Ek Tha, speaking in defence of the CPP officials, said Comfrel’s allegations were a result of confusion and warned the committee to act within the law.

“Please, Comfrel, respect others’ rights,” Ek Tha said.

“The Cambodian People’s Party has not abused the law and has not taken state properties to propagandise for its interests. Some properties are the personal properties of Cambodian People’s Party officials,” he added.



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