By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
13 May 2009
Commune council members nationwide will vote on May 17 in provincial- and district-level elections that are an attempt to decentralize government.
The Sam Rainsy Party claims that two Cambodian People’s Party members offered its council members Var Sam and Bun Keth between $800 and $1,000 each to vote for the ruling party in upcoming elections.
“I will still continue with the complaint process and request the Phnom Penh Election Committee to open a public hearing for punishing the wrongdoers,” SRP representative Ly Sovichea told VOA Khmer on Wednesday. “We want the Phnom Penh Election Committee to follow the law.”
The CPP members, Ly Raman and Leng Phaly, have denied the allegations, and said they would attend a public hearing if necessary.
Ly Raman, who is an adviser for the Ministry of Cults and Religion, said he would “prepare legal action” if the opposition continued with its complaint.
Leng Phaly, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Planning, said the complainants had “no evidence” and that he had a “right to lobby all commune council members to vote for the CPP during the campaign.”
SRP officials say they have enough evidence of vote-buying to have a public hearing, and the Phnom Penh Election Committee said it would go forward with a hearing if the sides could not reconcile.
Bun Kheth, second deputy chief of Toek Thla commune, in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district said the complaint did not need to be reconciled, but a hearing should be held for “respect of the law and the rights of others.”
Var Sam, commune council member for Phnom Penh Thmei commune, said reconciliation would encourage impunity, and cause “wrongdoers” to “continue to violate the law without worry.”
More than 10,000 commune council members from the Cambodian People’s, Sam Rainsy and Norodom Ranariddh parties will vote for 3,260 seats on May 17.