June 19, 2023
PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Sen has reiterated his stern warning to those planning to interfere with the upcoming general election in Cambodia.
The warning was directed at any individual or group considering sabotage tactics such as the spoiling of paper ballots in an attempt to disrupt the voting process.
The warning came as the premier met with garment workers in Kampong Speu province on June 17, in response to calls from unnamed overseas groups who he said urged voters to spoil their ballots.
Hun Sen reinforced that Cambodian opposition groups adhering to the overseas calls would face imprisonment and fines under the country’s amended election laws, currently under review by the National Assembly.
“Those abroad are advising you to act, but let me remind you: If you follow these instructions, you will face legal consequences. Your actions are not anonymous. When you speak, your voice reaches me,” he warned.
The prime minister clarified that his words were not threats, but rather reminders of the legal implications for those attempting to disrupt the electoral process.
He said his comments were made in an effort to discourage citizens from heeding these calls. He stressed that overseas opposition groups showed a lack of respect for citizens’ rights by inciting them to spoil their ballots, referencing similar occurrences during the 2018 elections.
The warning was issued in the wake of a call to action by Sam Rainsy, former leader of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), for people to spoil their ballots.
“Over 600,000 voters spoiled their ballots in the July 2018 election due to the absence of the CNRP’s name. Without our beloved party’s name, we are forced to spoil the ballots of parties we do not support,” Rainsy explained in a Facebook post dated June 15.
Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, concurred on June 17 with the Prime Minister’s stance, acknowledging that overseas opposition groups have repeatedly incited voters to boycott elections and spoil ballots. He described these actions as serious law violations, undermining democracy and disrupting Cambodian elections.
“All opposition activists must comprehend these factors, as they might personally face law enforcement consequences. As the Prime Minister pointed out, any violation of these laws could result in a prison sentence,” he said.