After a ruling CPP official claimed that those who refuse to cast their ballot in the Kingdom’s upcoming elections “love dictatorship” and are “supporting rebel groups”, legal and election experts have said it is the individual right of citizens whether or not to vote.
Ieng Moly, chairman of the National Aids Authority, said on Monday in Kampong Speu province during a meeting with factory workers that boycotting the elections meant “supporting treasonous rebel groups”.
“When going to vote, there is a mark, the finger is inked. But if you don’t go to vote, you don’t love democracy, you love dictatorship. Your finger is not inked, which makes it easy to recognise that you are supporting treasonous rebel groups,” Moly said, as quoted by Fresh News.
This comes as some on social media have called on people to not vote in July’s elections without the presence of the now-dissolved CNRP on the ballot paper.
Former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy has urged a boycott of the poll if the party is not allowed to take part.
But legal and election experts have said that whether to vote or not is a right of the citizen and protected by the Constitution.
Koul Panha, head of election watchdog Comfrel and chairman of Bangkok-based international election observation organisation Anfrel, said people can vote on a voluntary basis.
“To vote or not for any party is a right according to law. When government officials and authorities say ‘those who don’t go to vote are supporting a treasonous party’, it is a threat violating the law and the rights of the citizen,” Panha wrote on Facebook on Monday.
He said some countries like Thailand even gave a third choice with “abstain” on their ballot papers.
Article 34 of the Cambodian Constitution states that Cambodian people aged 18 and over have the right to vote.
Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun said Cambodia doesn’t have a law to force people to vote. “Our law does not force people to vote. [Not voting is not illegal], it is a freedom. In some countries there is law to force people to vote,” Sam Oeun said.
On deeming election boycotters as supporting rebel groups, Sam Oeun said: “It is not a correct claim because in the previous election there was not a 100 percent turnout. Was that supporting rebels?”
Moly could not be reached for comment yesterday.