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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Cambodia polling under attack
CPP election poster in Phnom Penh
The poll is now only days away
One of the main opposition candidates in Cambodia's national election on Sunday has complained the poll cannot be fair.

Sam Rainsy told the BBC's World Today programme that although this year's election was less violent than previously, an atmosphere of fear and intimidation still prevailed, especially in remote villages.

"The ruling party controls the state apparatus, so the state and the ruling party form one entity. This allows the ruling party to do practically whatever they want," he said.

But officials from Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) have denied that they are using state resources to help their campaign.

"It is not true," Prum Sokha, the CPP State Secretary for the Interior, told Australian radio.

"If you get any specific case to show us, we will conduct our own investigation and if it is true we would punish them," he said.

International rights groups have also drawn attention to village chiefs who are said to be threatening people with land confiscation unless they vote a particular way.

The National Election Committee - which is responsible for ensuring the ballot is free and fair - has warned village leaders not to act as agents for any of the 22 political parties contesting the polls, according to the French news agency AFP.

As well as the Sam Rainsy Party, the other main opposition party is Prince Ranariddh's Funcinpec.

Funcinpec's deputy secretary-general, Nhek Bunchhay, said in a recent radio interview that CPP agents had been threatening people by saying that there would be a war if the ruling party lost the election.

Funcinpec has campaigned heavily on its royal connections, and along with the Sam Rainsy Party, has promised pay rises for government workers.

Both opposition parties have also taken issue with the growing number of Vietnamese living illegally in Cambodia.

In his interview with the BBC, Mr Rainsy defended his stance on the issue, saying it was nothing to do with racism.

"The opposition blames the government for not taking care of our territorial integrity. We want Cambodia to be truly independent," he said.

Another problem that could complicate the election is bad weather.

Elephants transporting ballot boxes to remote jungle villages are being hampered by torrential rains.

"It has been raining for the last three days, and the elephants are having real problems crossing the streams in some places because of the current," provincial election chief Ty Thoeun told Reuters news agency.




SEE ALSO:
Cambodian princess attacks party
22 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Cambodia poll run-up criticised
08 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Violence haunts Cambodian polls
06 Mar 03  |  Asia-Pacific
UN and Cambodia sign court deal
06 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Khmer Rouge's legacy of fear
24 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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