The Battambang Provincial Election Committee (PEC) on Sunday said it will investigate a complaint against some 30 former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) members for taking part in a “Clean Fingers” campaign that urged voters to boycott the July 29 national elections.
The complaint from Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) officials alleges that a photograph taken at a gathering in the province and posted on the Facebook page of a former CNRP politician shows the group taking part in such a campaign on Thursday night.
The Clean Fingers campaign was launched after former CNRP president Sam Rainsy appealed to the public to refrain from voting in the upcoming polls to protest against the dissolution of the opposition party by the Supreme Court last year.
The Ministry of Interior has warned that it will take legal action against any individual or group that calls for an election boycott.
Battambang PEC head Ven Porn said he is yet to receive the complaint, but expects it on Monday.
He confirmed that a complaint by CPP members had been filed at the local CEC, but the commune body could not come to a conclusion and so it was sent to the PEC.
Piv Houy, a CPP official in Battambang, said a complaint was filed on Saturday against the former CNRP members for organising a “Clean Fingers campaign”.
He said that on Thursday night, Chea Chiv and others gathered for a party at his home in Sangke district’s Anglong Vel commune, where the boycott call was held.
“We complained because they followed the order issued by Sam Rainsy on Facebook. This activity was a Clean Fingers campaign. They acknowledged that they [raised fingers], but denied it was part of the campaign as the photo was taken at a gathering of friends and family members.
“We [CPP members] did not violate their rights because people have the right to do what they want, but not raising fingers all together to incite [others not to vote as part of a] Clean Fingers campaign.”
Chiv is among 118 CNRP politicians banned from engaging in political activities for five years after the party was dissolved in November by the Supreme Court, following a complaint filed by the Ministry of Interior.
Chiv claimed his group was merely “exercising freedom of expression”.
“They complained to stop us exercising our freedom of expression. They [complained] to intimidate and put pressure on us so that we would stop our activities,” he said.
Article 142 of the Election Law states that a person can be fined between five and 20 million riel for urging people not to vote.