Claims from opposition groups abroad have had no bearing on Cambodia’s ongoing electoral process, with the 15-day campaign period progressing peacefully, according to National Election Committee (NEC) spokesman Hang Puthea.
The response followed appeals from the overseas-based opposition urging eligible voters not to participate in the July 23 general election. They argued that any votes cast will only serve to nullify the ballots.
“Overseas individuals exercising free speech have attempted to disrupt the normal course of the election in Cambodia,” Puthea said. “This isn’t the first time such groups have plotted and staged disruptions, yet these actions had failed to affect the quality of elections.”
Puthea pointed out that, in previous mandates, the opposition has been unable to prevent over 80 per cent of registered voters from casting their ballots.
He indicated that their influence has waned in the current election cycle and as a result is unlikely to disrupt or influence the electoral process.
“The election is proceeding as planned, and thus, it remains unaffected,” he affirmed.
“Those who have followed the directives of overseas entities have engaged in activities such as encouraging ballot spoiling. Some political parties have lodged complaints against these instigators who are now facing legal repercussions,” he added.
Puthea further commented that the inflammatory rhetoric from those overseas has created difficulties for voters, with some even falling victim to their provocations.
On the other hand, Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of the NGO Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC), refrained from
commenting on the situation.
“It hinges on the populace’s participation in the electoral process,” he said on July 16.
“Let’s await election day . . . we can then assess the turnout from the over nine million registered voters. We will also tally the number of ballots, which will provide an estimate of the election’s success”.
While Kuntheamy noted that the campaign was proceeding smoothly without any incidents of violence, he observed that only the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had actively campaigned across the country and fielded candidates in their respective constituencies.
In a press release dated July 15, the NEC reported that out of 18 political parties, 12 have actively propagated their platforms, with five of those also having held processions.
“Overall, the first five days of the campaign period have been orderly, secure and peaceful,” read the press release.
Hun Manet, who is contesting in Phnom Penh for the ruling party, gathered nearly 60,000 supporters and organised rallies on July 16, ending his campaign day at the Boeung Kak area in Daun Penh district. The campaign period will continue until July 21.