Recriminations swirled as residents of Kandal province’s Sa’ang district who blocked unfamiliar voters from casting their ballots at a polling station said local authorities have been visiting their homes and writing down their names, without saying why.
According to resident Ly Meng, protesters in Sa’ang district’s Sa’ang Phnom commune had simply wanted to ensure that elections were “fair”. A district official, however, said yesterday that those blocked from voting had been properly registered, and that he suspected the demonstrators were strangers.
“We do not prevent people from voting. It is because many new faces turned up to vote, and also Yuon came to vote,” Meng said, using an at times racially charged term for Vietnamese. “Because of such irregularities, we proposed to them to close the [polling] station.”
Since then, village guards have been compiling a list of people involved in blocking the so-called newcomers, Meng added, but would not divulge why.
Villager Tat Samuon also defended the decision to block the poll, and said he suspected the list was targeting villagers “for their arrest, because on Election Day they arrested one person, but he was released”.
Sa’ang Phnom district governor Kim Chankiri, however, maintained that newcomers had proper documents, and had registered to vote in the area because they worked there.
“I think the banning was deliberate, because the voters are from the outside, not people from the village. This is systematic incitement to make trouble during the election,” he said, adding that those who started the protest were the real strangers.
Chankiri said he did not know why a list was being made, but that he had seen a copy, and “so far, we do not know the people whose names were listed”.
Kim Hong, chairman of the provincial election committee, said that despite having 258 registered voters, the station saw only 86 cast a ballot before the disruption forced the poll to close. Hong added that he had left it to the parties to file complaints.