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Sam Rainsy pledges to out-bid vote buyers

Sam Rainsy pledges to out-bid vote buyers

Speaking out against vote-buying, opposition leader Sam Rainsy on July 19 offered money to Cambodians who call out political operatives trying to illegally influence their votes.

“Recently, [the CPP] has been persuading people to not vote by giving them 10,000 riel or 20,000 riel and then promising them more money after the election when they present a clean finger” not dipped in ink, which would prove they had voted, Rainsy said on his eponymous party’s in-house program, Candlelight Radio.

“To encourage you to join the election and do your duty as citizens, I will double the money given to you to not vote or to vote for the CPP, if you inform me of the party’s member who tried to buy you,” he said.

Rainsy told the Post on July 20 that not only did his party’s candidates have to contend with CPP officials distributing money and other gifts to voters, they also had to worry about voters being paid simply to stay away from the polls.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith, who is also a CPP member, denied Rainsy’s charges of illegal vote-buying.

“It is not true we buy people to not vote or force people to defect to the CPP,” he said.

“It may happen a little at the level of commune or village, but not as much as he says.”

One SRP member in Kampot province said he had been targeted by just such a CPP effort.

“I was invited by the deputy village chief to a meeting on July 16 at the CPP office to get gifts and 20,000 riel for which I had to promise to vote for the CPP,” said Hearng Houn, 37. “I accepted the gifts, but my vote is my decision.”

Village chief Sok Nhjor on Sunday confirmed presiding over the meeting, but claimed those present had all defected to the CPP already.

“The money I gave them was for food, not to buy votes,” he said.

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