Making the wrong choice in the upcoming commune election will invite poverty, suffering and fear, CNRP President Kem Sokha warned yesterday, as ruling party officials continued to describe a vote for the opposition as a vote for war and social unrest.
On the campaign trail ahead of the June 4 vote, Mr. Sokha told hundreds of supporters in Kompong Chhnang province that the stakes for the election were high.
CNRP President Kem Sokha addresses supporters at a rally in Phnom Penh on Saturday morning. (Ben Paviour/The Cambodia Daily)“Brothers, sisters and countrymen, please know that the election of leaders in the communes is very important,” Mr. Kem Sokha said via loudspeakers from the back of a truck. “If brothers and sisters elect vicious leaders, you will get suffering. If brothers and sisters elect corrupt leaders, you will get poverty. If brothers and sisters elect threatening or intimidating leaders, you will get fear.”
The CNRP, on the other hand, developed policy from the grassroots and will “eliminate corruption from the top to the bottom,” he pledged.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan, however, said voters knew better than to be fooled by Mr. Sokha, whom he called “undemocratic.”
“It won’t affect anything because people—they know what democracy is, who democratic people are,” he said. “They will vote for politicians who have achievements and qualifications to serve the national interest.”
The ruling party has employed similar tactics. In the weeks leading up to the campaign period on Saturday, Prime Minister Hun Sen repeatedly claimed that casting a vote for the opposition would encourage social upheaval and even civil war.
The warnings are a regular theme for Mr. Hun Sen, even outside of election season, and have been taken up with zeal by ruling party officials, with Defense Minister Tea Banh threatening last week to smash the teeth of anyone who dared demonstrate against election results.
Saturday’s start to the election campaign has led to a fresh batch of similar talk from other party members.

National Assembly spokesman Chheang Vun yesterday delivered a slideshow on the 12 phases of revolution; Keo Remy, head of the government’s Cambodian Human Rights Committee, cautioned against following the example set by Middle Eastern revolutionaries in a speech yesterday; and Heng Ratana, director of the government’s Cambodian Mine Action Center, took to Facebook on Monday to post photographs of a black- and krama-clad opposition supporter, claiming that the man “actively promoted the Khmer Rouge’s