Police officers, military police and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers should not incite, intimidate or threaten voters in the run-up to the June 4 commune elections or on Election Day, the Interior Ministry and National Election Committee (NEC) said in a statement this week.
—Commune Election 2017—
Security forces should ensure public safety and remain politically neutral, according to the statement issued on Wednesday and signed by Interior Minister Sar Kheng and NEC chairman Sik Bunhok.
Interior Minister Sar Kheng addresses police officers and civil servants during a ceremony in 2015 in Phnom Penh. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)“Every action during the election is banned in which armed forces would use their authority to incite, intimidate or threaten to cause disorder,” the statement says. “Especially do not use power to commit any actions to support or oppose election candidates, representatives, agents, activists or any political party supporter.”
While working, election security forces should not carry weapons that could cause public confusion or fear, it adds.
Last week, Defense Minister Tea Banh said authorities would “smash the teeth” of people who protested this year’s commune election results. Three days later, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the military would side with the government in any fighting over the outcome of the election.
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said on Thursday that each polling station would have two guards standing 100 meters from the site, one of them armed.
Asked about the consequences of the armed forces violating the NEC and Interior Ministry rules, Mr. Puthea said: “If an irregularity happens, the head of the polling station can request an intervention with security agents.”
“This policy states that armed forces don’t need to have many weapons or have arguments with citizens,” he added.
Officials said earlier this month that a security force of more than 30,000 would be deployed on Election Day to prevent any potential sabotage at the polls, with more than 19,000 personnel deployed during the campaign period.
The presence of armed forces, even stationed far away from the ballot box, could still frighten voters, said Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia.
“There should not be many armed forces at polling stations because our country doesn’t have terrorists,” Mr. Kuntheamy said. “When there are many armed forces, even if they stand 100 meters away, it could still scare voters.”
odom@cambodiadaily.com
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