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Hun Sen calls for calm political campaign season

THE PHNOM PENH POST/ANN – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on all sides to make sure the upcoming commune council election campaigns go smoothly, urging calm and the preservation of public order – without threats and violence.

Speaking at the April 20 launch ceremony of Phase IV of the Flood Prevention and Drainage Improvement project in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said he would not be joining in campaign activities for the elections as he was due to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as chair of ASEAN.

He added that he had trusted the candidates and leadership of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to launch the election campaign, and called on all polling stations to make sure that voters could cast their ballots freely for any of the 17 parties contesting the election.

“I will not be available to campaign, and I want to make it clear that there will be no violence in the election process, whether physical or verbal.

“A neutral atmosphere is necessary at this stage of conducting campaign activities, so authorities at all levels must ensure that all of the parties that are contesting the ballot are treated equally,” he said.

Grassroots Democratic Party members take part in a parade in Cambodia. PHOTO: PHNOM PENH POST

He emphasised that the CPP and non-ruling parties shared the same rights. Neutrality from the civil administration in the election would keep the atmosphere calm and free of violence. This contest will decide future administrations, at the grassroots level, he added.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan told The Post on April 20 that despite the absence of one or two leaders, the party’s campaign and election processes would still move forward without any hindrance because the CPP Standing Committee consisted of more than 30 leaders.

He said the party had always followed the legal principles, procedures and rules as mandated by the National Election Committee (NEC) to make sure elections took place safely and fairly, according to the wishes of the public.

“The political environment, both now and in the past, it is not unusual for there to be violations or threats and I understand that, it is just the rhetoric of politicians. Anyone who breaches the regulations must be held accountable before the law, and there is no argument about that,” he said.

Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) spokesman Loek Sothea welcomed the premier’s calls, saying the remarks ensured transparency and fairness, and would avert violence in the election process. Verbal and non-verbal violence are the starting point of division, so if parties can avoid these actions and work together, it would provide a good example to the public, he said.

“GDP has clear-cut principles. Among them is the principle of non-violence. We strongly oppose the use of all forms of violence. Our goal is to gain popularity and come to power without the use of violence,” he said.

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