>Gov’t appeals against ‘political pollution’ ahead of election campaign

>Sam Rainsy Party election campaign kick off on 25th June.

By Chun Sophal
The Mekong Times

The government has called for political parties, NGOs, and election observers to join together in preventing “pollution of the political environment” during this year’s national election campaign.
“NGOs, party representatives, international and national observers, and the Cambodian people should cooperate with each other in providing information on the threats and irregularities of people wishing to pollute the political environment during the election campaign and the election,” said a three-page statement issued yesterday, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“Security forces and authorities have to take urgent measures to curb potential offences – such as robberies, intimidation, violence and crimes – abusing and injuring parliamentary candidates, party members, campaigners, international and national observers, election officials, and voters.”
Authorities, commune councilors and village chiefs must perform their work independently and impartially to ensure that the political environment is peaceful and secure, read the statement, adding that political parties should run their campaigns based on the principles of equality and democracy.
European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission (EOM) Deputy Chief Observer Graham Elson, who arrived in Cambodia last weekend, said yesterday that the EU does not wish to see any pre- or post-election conflict in Cambodia.
“I want to hear Cambodian politicians speaking about developments rather than disputes in their electoral campaign,” said Elson, adding that the EOM yesterday sent its first group of 44 observers to all Cambodian provinces to monitor the election campaign and process.
The EU plans to spend US$4 million to observe the July 27 elections and is sending a total of more than 130 election observers.
“I believe that the EU EOM will encourage the electoral process to go much more smoothly, freely and fairly,” said Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, a prominent local election monitoring NGO. “I think that, together, [election] observers and political parties can secure a peaceful and better electoral process.”
Opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann said his party remains very concerned over intimidation and politically motivated violence ahead of the election.
“International [election] observers have to pay more attention to the issues rather than driving a car round sightseeing,” he said. “We don’t have faith in the government appeal.”
Today is the first official day of the one month election campaign.

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