The Cambodia National Rescue Party has accused a ruling party village chief in Kampong Cham province of confiscating villagers’ national ID cards in an effort to coerce them into voting for the Cambodian People’s Party.
Kong Sam An, a CNRP official in Memot district, said yesterday that he had filed a complaint with the Provincial Election Committee (PEC) on Sunday, alleging Sambo village chief Hong Heang had collected about 20 IDs – and later returned them with instructions on how to cast a ballot for the CPP at the July 28 election.
“When I asked why he was collecting IDs with three other people, he replied that he was just keeping them in a bag to avoid damage from the rain,” Sam An said. “Why, then, is he returning them with CPP how-to-vote cards?”
Heang told the Post yesterday that he had indeed just been trying to ensure the ID cards were kept safe from water damage and help villagers remember to bring their cards on Election Day.
“I asked [my staff] to bring those IDs to my home,” he said. “We do not want to keep them because we are just afraid of them being damaged by the rain. Now, on Election Day, they can bring them in these bags,” he said.
Heang said his team had collected IDs from 18 groups in the village – a total of about 40 ID cards.
“The commune chief ordered me to. What he has done is to also include election information cards.”
The PEC's Sok Chhen declined to comment, but NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha said it was unlawful for village and commune chiefs to confiscate IDs from villagers.
Hang Puthea, president of election monitor NICFEC, said the law clearly stated that it was illegal for officials to collect IDs with the intentions of pressuring them into supporting a particular party.
According to NEC figures, as of July 12, more than 300 complaints have been filed at the commune, provincial and national levels during this election campaign.