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Vote-buying claim sparks row

Vote-buying claim sparks row

Two opposition political parties pushing democracy have been caught up in a public spat over votes, despite one claiming to support the other.

Sear Sambath, chief of the The Human Rights Party issued a statement yesterday demanding the Sam Rainsy Party stop accusing it of paying SRP commune council members to vote for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party senate candidates at the 2012 senate election, to be held in January.

“HRP parliamentarians have already decided to vote for SRP senate candidates, because we understand that at least it is better than to vote for the ruling party,” the statement read.

“[The party] has a real aim to change the country’s present leadership, therefore, what does it mean that HRP would do as SRP [has accused]?”

HRP said the SRP had been experiencing internal conflict because of a lack of strong leadership, creating a “crisis” that caused SRP members and activists to lose belief in their leaders and defect or sell their votes.

Last week, SRP parliamentarian Kuoy Bunroeun, based in Kampong Cham provincial constituency, accused HRP members Van Sivoeun and Orm Phosta of trying to persuade SRP activists Nhem Seiha and Meach Kouy to meet with CPP Ministry of Women Affairs Secretary of State Im Sithe to discuss selling senate votes for US$500.

When contacted yesterday, Kuoy Bunroeun said he did not accuse the HRP as a whole, but said he had evidence that some HRP members had persuaded SRP activists to vote for CPP.

“We just want to inform that activists of Human Rights Party have been doing activities to persuade... We have real evidence,” Kuoy Bunroeun said.

Im Sithe dismissed the allegations.

Former SRP senator Van Sivoeun, who defected to the HRP, also dismissed the allegations, saying that the “evidence” that he had persuaded SRP activists was fabricated.

“I don’t understand. I don’t know what their intentions are,” he said.

Commune council members Nhem Seiha and Meach Kouy could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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