A confrontation between rival rallies in Takeo and the questioning of an opposition candidate by a Military Police officer in Siem Reap prompted both major parties to file complaints with election authorities on the first weekend of the official campaign period.
The two separate incidents took place within the first 48 hours of the two-week campaign for the June 4 commune elections, which started on Saturday and saw political parties hold events across the country.
The confrontation in Takeo occurred in Koh Andet district on Saturday at about 8:30am when marching ruling Cambodian People’s Party supporters met a stationary rally of opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party supporters on a narrow dirt road in Prey Khla commune.
A video of the incident shows a heated exchange between representatives of both parties.
Following the stand-off, CPP Deputy Commune Chief Pech Chhim lodged a complaint with the Commune Election Committee alleging the opposition group of about 15 people and its leader, Keo Arth, had breached Article 171 of the Commune Election Law.
The section prohibits people from blocking candidates or supporters from registering, voting or campaigning, and carries a fine of between about $1,250 and $5,000.
In the complaint, Chhim demands that the group be “cancelled . . . from the election list”.
Takeo Provincial Election Committee head Nuon Saren said the CNRP had also lodged a complaint over the incident and that an attempt to resolve the conflict at the commune level yesterday afternoon had failed, meaning the matter would next be assessed by his team.
Saren said his understanding was that the CNRP group had heard the ruling party rally’s loudspeaker and set out to stop the procession from crossing through the village, which could have breached Article 171.
Local opposition officials could not be reached, and CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann referred questions to fellow lawmaker and official in charge of the provincial campaign Pol Ham, who was also unreachable.
Meanwhile, CNRP officials in Siem Reap’s Kokchak commune lodged a complaint with their Commune Election Committee (CEC) yesterday after a supposed Military Police officer, yet to be identified, questioned a party candidate over the course of two days.
The man first questioned vendors outside the residence of CNRP commune council candidate Chan Somaly, 25, on Saturday as to why the CNRP was erecting a billboard in the commune’s Kok Tnaut village.
The official then returned yesterday, this time in plain clothes, and asked Somaly intrusive questions about a forum the party was holding yesterday.
The complaint was filed by commune chief candidate Yim Phally, who called the incident an act of intimidation. Phally added that CEC officials were already investigating the incident.
“I am not afraid, but I am suspicious as to why he is coming to investigate,” said Somaly, who is the second candidate on the ballot for the CNRP.