Minister of Interior Sar Sokha has directed local authorities to intensify efforts to curb and crack down on offences, including negative phenomena in society, to ensure and maintain the overall security climate as Senate election is approaching.

Sokha, who leads the Permanent Security Command for the Senate, capital, provincial, town and district elections scheduled for early next year, made the remarks at a December 11 meeting announcing a sub-decree on the committee. 

National Election Committee (NEC) chairman Prach Chan, along with relevant officials from both national and sub-national levels, were also in attendance.

“Despite improvements in the general social climate in Cambodia, issues such as thefts, homicide, domestic and social violence and anarchy, among other disputes, continue to occur. These have a detrimental effect on society and can attract unwarranted political criticism from those who are pessimistic about the government,” the ministry quoted Sokha as saying on December 12. 

He further instructed authorities to persist in taking legal actions to prevent and address the violations promptly, emphasising the need for diligent investigation of all offences to bring perpetrators to justice and prevent them from walking the streets with impunity.

“All joint forces commands must collaborate to provide effective security services. It is especially important to work with the NEC and relevant parties to address and inform the public about any incitement plots that attempt to disrupt the elections, in order to maintain a tranquil atmosphere. We must take legal action to peacefully resolve problems,” he stated.

Chan noted that the committee had set up an election security secretariat to coordinate efforts with the Permanent Security Command and sub-national police commands. The collaboration aims to ensure smooth, peaceful and safe conduct of vote list checks and registration for both national and sub-national elections, free from threats and violence.

“From now on, the electoral commissions will enhance cooperation with the Permanent Security Command to foster a positive atmosphere during and after next year’s Senate election of the fifth legislature and the council election of the fourth mandate, as well as the annual voter registration, ensuring they are free, credible and fair,” he added. 

He urged the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), national police officers and particularly the security forces on duty, to remain neutral and adhere to the rules of their respective groups. 

He emphasised the need for police commands in the capital and provinces, electoral commissions, political parties, associations and NGOs to collaborate in coordinating and resolving issues related to electoral security that may arise during the stages of the national and sub-national elections.

The Senate election is set for February 25, 2024. To date, four political parties have applied to the NEC. These include the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), the Khmer Will Party (KWP), the Nation Power Party (NPP) and the National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC).