Nearly 200 villagers from Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district gathered for a fourth consecutive day of protest yesterday, claiming they had been illegally refused the right to register to vote by their commune chief.
Residents from O’Ampril village protested in front of Anlong Veng commune office, accusing commune chief Hang Sat of refusing to allow them to register to vote for the commune elections scheduled for next year.
“The Anlong Veng commune chief said that he will allow us to register to vote if we swear to vote for the [ruling] Cambodia Peoples Party, otherwise he will not because he is afraid we will vote for the [opposition] Sam Rainsy Party,” said 38-year-old Moeun Heak. “I have a Cambodian identity card and I am a Khmer citizen. Why can I not vote? I am not a foreigner,” Moeun Heak said.
Anlong Veng commune chief Hang Sat said that he would not allow the villagers to register because they had been unable to produce documents confirming they were commune residents. “I do not care what party they are from, it is a democracy. I did not allow them to register to vote because none of them have any documents,” Hang Sat said.
National Election Committee secretary-general Tep Nitha said the villagers could file a complaint if they were denied the right to register to vote.
Meanwhile, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia said irregularities in the voter-registration process had been found in every province. In Ratanakkiri, 321 cases of irregularities were reported during the registration period, Comfrel representative Toun Pin Dara said.
Pem Chhundy, a NEC official in the province, dismissed Comfrel’s report. “It’s not true, the registration process was very good this year,” he said.