Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Election security pushed

Election security pushed

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
National Police officials attend an event on Tuesday in Kandal province where Interior Minister Sar Kheng urged authorities to bolster security ahead of upcoming elections. Photo supplied

Election security pushed

As an intensive riot control course for 100 provincial police officers in Kratie province kicked off this week, Interior Minister Sar Kheng urged security personnel to prepare for upcoming elections, pointing to their performance during the 2013 national ballot as a positive benchmark because nobody was killed on election day.

An Interior Ministry spokesman yesterday echoed the need for strong security, saying failure to provide such could condemn the Kingdom to “the same fate as Syria”.

Kheng, a deputy prime minister and head of an inter-ministerial committee overseeing election security, spoke on Tuesday at the National Police academy in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district, directing his remarks to all provincial and municipal authorities, political parties and the public.

“Our police force will work hard and must work hard to fulfill their work well and keep security for the election, like in 2013 . . . because at that time there were no people killed during the election even though political parties, politicians and people attacked each other with words and phrases,” Kheng said.

However, Sam Kuntheamy, the director of election monitor Nicfec, yesterday disputed Kheng’s appraisal of the security forces’ performance. “During the previous national election the security was not well done,” Kuntheamy said.

Polling day in 2013 saw police fail to stop mobs of opposition supporters who confronted and obstructed voters they accused of being Vietnamese, an issue which led to one major outbreak of violence in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district where rioters overturned two military vehicles.

“During election day this time, the Interior Ministry, National Election Committee and Ministry of National Defence should strictly provide security, and in cases where there are violations, then they should take immediate action,” Kuntheamy said.

However, Kuntheamy said he doubted the commune ballot would spark violence requiring a security force crackdown and called for the government to set strict standards to avoid voter intimidation by security personnel, who have often been accused of campaigning openly for the ruling party.

The government last year announced it would dispatch roughly 76,000 police, gendarmes and army troops to monitor the June election. Speaking yesterday, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said yesterday a security presence was essential to avoid conflict.

“Without being able to mobilise the army, Cambodia may have the same fate as Syria,” Sopheak said.

“If we could not control the situation in 2013, our country today would be like Syria or Libya.”

Speaking yesterday, Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Cheam Channy said the comparison to Syria, where an uprising in 2011 has led to a sustained civil war and left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced, was erroneous.

“Demonstrating is the right of the people as stated in the law,” he said. “Syria is different from Cambodia. We have no intent to have a revolution.”

Also on Tuesday in Kratie province, about 100 officers from provincial, district and border units began a 45-day training course focused on confronting protests, according to Kratie deputy provincial police chief Pech Savang.

“We train morning and afternoon about eight hours per day,” Savang said.

“There are many lessons and we do not only focus on cracking down [on protests] but that is the main subject. [The skills taught] include using a shield, cracking down on protesters and how [officers] protect themselves.”

Kratie provincial governor Sar Chamrong denied the training was connected to upcoming elections.“These are police skills … It is normal,” he said.

Cambodian security forces have been regularly accused of using heavy-handed tactics against protesters. Six people were killed by security forces during protests in the months that followed the disputed results of the last national ballot.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the