National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith on Friday sought to dismiss fears that the government’s plan to deploy 80,000 security forces during July's election is an act of intimidation, saying the troops will not be present at the polling stations themselves and would respect the rights of voters.
The government announced the numbers last Wednesday, saying that the force would include 20,000 “citizens”, raising alarm among human rights and election observers.
In an apparent response, Chantharith told pro-government outlet Fresh News on Friday that “there is no threat”. While the security guards are typically selected by local officials, almost all of whom are now members of the ruling party after the Cambodia National Rescue Party's forced dissolution, Chantharith also said they aren’t “the force of the political party”.
Speaking to The Post on Sunday, Chantharith said these forces will not actually be present at the polls, but will “stand by” in the commune, district and provincial halls as a reserve force in case the police are occupied.
“The commune chief, district and provincial police, all go out. So if something happens which needs intervention, no one can deal with it. That’s why we ask them to stand by at the halls,” he said.
Chantharith said the men would be trained to “understand the law, regulations and procedures”, but did not elaborate on the details of the training. Certain "focal" leaders of the forces received three days of training last week, and are meant to pass on information to the rest of forces.