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Opposition registration drive blocked by police in Banteay Meanchey

Cambodia National Rescue Party supporters in Banteay Meanchey attend a public forum in 2013. Facebook
Cambodia National Rescue Party supporters in Banteay Meanchey attend a public forum in 2013. Facebook

Opposition registration drive blocked by police in Banteay Meanchey

Provincial authorities in Banteay Meanchey yesterday maintained they were right to block opposition members in Mongkol Borei district from staging events to encourage voters to register, calling the plans “anarchic” and unapproved.

Cambodia National Rescue Party activists tried on Sunday and Monday to gather supporters in an effort to persuade local residents to register with the National Election Committee, which is in the last weeks of a three-month campaign to enrol voters ahead of local and national elections in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

CNRP Banteay Meanchey provincial official Sor Chandeth said on Sunday police dissuaded villagers from attending, though the meeting of 50 people went ahead. But on Monday, about 10 officers arrived to shut down the event.

“Not wanting a clash, we just stopped,” Chandeth said, adding there was a crucial need for more information about registration in the province, with NEC figures showing only 63 percent of eligible voters had registered there. “They said it is not legal, but I submitted [the application] a week before.”

While Cambodian law requires people to notify authorities ahead of protests, there is no legislation covering small-scale gatherings. The NEC, meanwhile, has encouraged parties to lobby people to register.

However, Mongkol Borei district police chief Si Di, yesterday claimed his officers had acted correctly, denying he received notification from the group and saying they had no right to “meet as they wish in an anarchic way” because “they often slander the government”.

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