Guide to pages

Cambodia's 1998 Election

SRP Documents

(Page 1 of 9)

Will they or won't they:
The opposition weighs its options



Phnom Penh, May 18, 1998


In the joint statement released by the National United Front (NUF) on April 29, the member parties and leaders of the NUF specified that certain conditions must be met by May 18, 1998, in order for elections scheduled for July 26, 1998 to be considered free, fair and credible. These conditions have not been met as of today. The members of the NUF have agreed not to participate in the elections until the conditions have been met and a later election date set that allows enough time for all parties to compete fairly. We reaffirm our commitment to take part in elections, but we will not endorse unfair elections by participating in them.

We point to the conditions listed by His Excellency Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his memorandum of April 2, 1998. In particular, Section 6 of that document specifies a set of conditions under which the UN would review its role. Following are those conditions and our comments on them:

6. b) raising barriers to the registration or participation of major political parties or candidates in the elections in violation of international standards;

Parties that were registered for the 1993 election, such as the Democratic Party, have been denied participation in the 1998 election, but cannot appeal because the avenue for appeal designated by Article 25 of the Law on Political Parties, the Constitutional Council, has not been formed (see below).

6. c) a general climate of intimidation preventing the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms such as freedom of speech and assembly;

The CPP is implementing a system of ten-family cells in which each cell has a leader. A militia member is in charge of each group of ten cells. Cell leaders force members to register with the CPP by thumbprinting a registration book. The members are frequently made to swear to vote for the CPP. Although Second Prime Minister and CPP vice president Hun Sen has said that the thumbprint books are merely receipts for gifts of monosodium glutamate, it is clear from reading the books that the prints specifically indicate agreement to become a CPP member. Furthermore, according to the book itself, CPP members promise to vote for the CPP and to enjoin their relatives and neighbours to vote for CPP, and cell leaders who thumbprint the book are promising to guarantee that all cell members actually vote for CPP. Because the state apparatus and the CPP party structure are intertwined at the local level, individual voters have good reason to worry that their response to the request to thumbprint the book will affect future relations with the local authorities and put them in danger. Lack of publicity about secrecy of the ballot, along with commune-level ballot counting, will leave individual voters afraid that the ballot will not be secret and that they may suffer consequences if they support an opposition party or if they do not vote for the CPP. Thomas Hammarberg, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia, said on May 13 that the thumbprint campaign violates the spirit of free elections and must be stopped.

Furthermore the government has made no substantial progress on investigating the murders of many opposition political figures, chiefly supporters of Prince Norodom Ranariddh of FUNCINPEC, since the July 1997 coup by the CPP. The UN documented 41 such slayings in an August report, and is expected to document another 50 in an upcoming report. There is no way to assess the impact of such a campaign of terror on people who might wish to speak out or organise in favour of opposition parties.

6. d) absence of equitable access to the media by the main political parties and candidates;

The CPP and its allies control all six television stations and some ten radio stations. These media outlets reach millions of Cambodian voters who have no access to other forms of media because they live in remote areas where newspapers are unavailable, or because they cannot read. The main opposition parties repeatedly have been denied a license to operate even one radio station.

These CPP-dominated broadcasts include coverage of activities and speeches by CPP figures and of other material seen as favourable to the CPP, while opposition speeches and news events that might be seen as favourable to opposition parties are ignored. Recent events ignored by the broadcast media include the return to Cambodia of Prince Norodom Ranariddh and workers' demonstrations on May Day that were led by Sam Rainsy.

6. e) the inability of the Constitutional Council to exercise its authority as laid down in the Constitution and in law.

Article 117 of the Constitution designates the Constitutional Council to resolve disputes over National Assembly elections. Therefore it is crucial that this body be both credible and balanced in composition. The meeting of the Supreme Council of Magistracy (SCM) which is to select the last three members of the Constitutional Council, now set for May 20, has been called in violation of its own rules. The meeting is required to be called by the Minister of Justice, who is out of the country. In his absence it should be called by the Secretary of State for Justice, Ouk Vithun; instead it was called by the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Sok An, a close associate and advisor of Hun Sen. In addition, the SCM cannot reach its quorum of seven out of nine: One seat on the SCM is vacant and two other members of the SCM are themselves nominees for the Constitutional Council and ineligible to participate in a vote on themselves. Another member of the SCM also cannot legally serve there because he occupies a place designated for a judge, and he is not a judge. The legitimacy of the SCM's procedure is further undermined by the fact that it did not announce the opening of the nomination period until May 6 and left only nine days for potential nominees to apply. Accordingly, at least seven of the eight applicants are CPP. The three members of the Constitutional Council chosen by the National Assembly are also all CPP members, leaving an overwhelming CPP majority on the Constitutional Council, as on the SCM and the National Election Commission.

The NUF does not wish its challenge to the formation of the Constitutional Council to be misinterpreted as an obstruction. The Constitutional Council must have credibility and must be constituted according to the law in order to avoid future challenges that could undermine the elections themselves.

Some of the problems listed above are related to the hasty preparations required by a July 26 polling date. The start of voter registration has already been moved from April 27 to May 18, but without a change in the election date, voters' rights are eroded. The 28-day registration period is now set for May 18 to June 15. Within that period, registration will take place for only three days in each polling station. The National Election Commission (NEC), in which 11 out of 12 members are CPP or CPP-aligned, has not publicised the dates of the registration periods specific to each polling station.

Meanwhile between 70,000 and 80,000 Cambodians are in refugee camps across the Thai border. Where and when will these refugees register and vote? Delays in the proper formation of the Constitutional Council have now left an unacceptably small window of opportunity for the Council to check the constitutionality of a wide range of laws relating to the election. These include the Law on Political Parties, the Law on Election of Members of the National Assembly, and the Law on Organisation and Functioning of the Constitutional Council. Because this election is the first to be organised by Cambodia itself, there are many unanswered questions about the role of the NEC, settlement of disputes, voter eligibility (for example, of overseas Cambodians) and other issues. In addition the Council must hear final voter registration appeals. It should be noted that the length of time available for those appeals will diminish for registrants at polling stations that come late in the schedule. That schedule is determined by the CPP-dominated NEC.

Even Sar Kheng, the CPP Minister of Interior, has recommended a delay in the vote for purely technical reasons.

In addition to the conditions listed by Mr Kofi Annan, the NUF listed four conditions in the April 29 joint statement signed by the leaders of the four member parties. None of the four has been met.

1. Amendment to the law on the election of members of the National Assembly, moving the ballot-counting from the village level to the district or provincial level;

2. Revision of the composition of the NEC to include true representatives from opposition parties and non-governmental organisations;

3. Formation and effective functioning of the Constitutional Council; and

4. Access to the broadcast media for all major political parties, which must be granted radio and/or television licenses.

The members of the NUF point to these conditions to show that it is now too late for free, fair and credible elections to be held on July 26, 1998. However we remain eager to participate in elections as soon as possible, and we will participate as long as the election takes place a suitable period of time after each condition for free, fair and credible elections is met as follows:

1. The campaign of intimidation must end immediately.

a) The CPP's thumbprint campaign and any similar efforts must end, along with any requests or demands on voters to swear allegiance to any party or promise to vote for any party, in violation of the concept of a free and secret ballot. The end of this campaign must be demonstrated by a clear and widely disseminated statement by party leadership to the effect that any such promises made are null and void.

b) In order to end the atmosphere of impunity, there must be substantial progress made in the investigations into political violence. We will look to the reports of the UN's special representative on this matter.

c) Ballot-counting must be undertaken at the district or provincial level, and voters must be informed that their ballots will remain secret.

2. The Constitutional Council must be formed and constituted according to the Constitution and the law. The Constitutional Council and the NEC must be reformulated so that they can operate legally and in a balanced and neutral manner, including members of opposition parties. The avenues for appeals by voters and parties must be available long enough in advance of the election that the appeals can be heard and decided fairly.

3. Opposition parties must have equitable access to the media, not only for campaign purposes during the official campaign period, but also to ensure that Cambodian voters will be able to choose media outlets which carry news and public affairs coverage other than that which is chosen and approved by the CPP. Licenses and all necessary permission must be provided such that opposition parties have at least two months in advance of the elections in which they are free to broadcast in theory and in practice.

The election, if conducted under present conditions, would be illegal and unconstitutional. Democracy cannot be promoted without consideration for the rule of law. We look forward to participating fully in elections for National Assembly, and we hope to be able to do so as soon as the necessary conditions are met. We further hope that the supporters of democracy in the international community will recognise the need for free, fair and credible elections in Cambodia and let their policies reflect that need. [Signed]

Tol Lah
Secretary-General of FUNCINPEC

Buor Hel
President of Cambodian Neutral Party

Sam Rainsy
President of Sam Rainsy Party

Son Soubert
President of Son Sann Party


Phnom Penh, May 19, 1998

The Sam Rainsy Party has joined with the National United Front (NUF) to reject the date of July 26, 1998 for Cambodia's National Assembly elections. We are absolutely in favor of fair elections, because they are a fundamental component of the mechanism of any democratic nation. In addition we are confident that the Sam Rainsy Party can attract significant support in any fair election in Cambodia. We reject the July 26 date because we reject elections that take place merely to retain existing leaderships in place by giving them the veneer of credibility. We waited a long time before we came to the conclusion that July 26 is not a feasible date for fair elections. We did so because we wanted to give the current government -- which dominates the National Election Commission and is poised to dominate all the other structures which are meant to be independent arbiters of election procedures -- plenty of time to correct the conditions that make a fair election on July 26 impossible. These conditions have been detailed in NUF statements released on April 17 and on April 29, as well as in the May 18 joint statement. Not only are the requirements not new, but they are completely in line with normal international standards for democratic elections. Now the government, in the person of Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is also CPP vice-president, says that it is too late to delay the elections. This is nonsense. Many stages of the elections have already been delayed. Even voter registration, which started on May 18, was supposed to start on April 27. In fact, the National Assembly can delay the election from July 26 to any future date just as it set the July 26 date. Hun Sen's rejection of our proposal to delay the election date shows how confident he is that the various improper measures that his party has already taken (detailed in the May 18 statement) will be sufficient to wrongfully ensure his party's victory.

In 1993, the UN organized the elections that FUNCINPEC won. Those elections were organized at great cost, with lengthy and elaborate preparations, with UN security in place, with intensive voter education, and with allocated media access. Turnout was very high, and the elections were hailed as a great success for Cambodia and for the international community. Now the time for a second election has come. Organized by Cambodia itself, it is seen as the test of emergent democracy here. But this is not the time for the international community, which is so generously donating funds and materials for these elections, to rest on its laurels, claiming credit for laying the foundation for democracy while ignoring the poor construction of the crumbling structure built on it.

The gross irregularities and abuses that have marked the lead-up to the July 26 election would never have been accepted in a UN-organized election. Support and accreditation for rubber-stamp elections can be nothing more than an easy way out for those who would accept short-term stability in place of long-term democracy and development. Our party rejects the concept of second-class elections for third-world countries. We understand that no election in Cambodia, or anywhere else, can be perfect. But when there are measures available that might prevent a sham election and make a fair election possible, they should be taken. Friends of democracy should urge that the conditions we have described be corrected and that Cambodia's elections be rescheduled so that their outcome can reflect the true will of the Cambodian people.



President, Sam Rainsy Party

Statement by

Samdech Chau Sen Cocsal Chhum

Member of the Constitutional Council

Appointed by His Majesty the King of Cambodia

Phnom Penh, May 20, 1998

In my capacity as a member of the Constitutional Council appointed by His Majesty the King, and as the Doyen of the Council, I must carry out with the utmost responsibility the mission with which His Majesty has entrusted me.

I state with great regret my misgivings as to the legitimacy of the Council as it is now being formed. The Council is being formed in a hasty and irregular manner that will impair its function and put its legitimacy in question. The meeting of the Supreme Council of Magistracy planned for today appears to be in contravention of the Law on the Supreme Council of Magistracy, and thus it is impossible for the final three members of the Constitutional Council to be chosen at this meeting. I would hope that a body empowered by the Constitution to carry out such an important role would be formed properly and legally.

That is my immediate concern. But I am also concerned that the Council will not be able to carry out the obligations assigned to it by the Constitution in the short time left before July 26, the date set for National Assembly elections. As the election nears, the burden of the Council's responsibilities grows increasingly heavy. If the Council were formed today, May 20, it will have only two months prior to the election to examine and rule on questions that will arise concerning the interpretation of the Law on Political Parties, the Law on Election of Members of the National Assembly, and the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Constitutional Council, as required by Article 117 of the Constitution. Several of these questions were enumerated in my statement dated March 27, 1998. Moreover, all of this work must be conscientiously and impartially completed well before the election date, as these Laws bear on the conduct of the registration, campaign, and polling processes.

Additionally, the Council is ultimately responsible for ruling on disputes related to the elections. Even if only the technical difficulties of organizing National Assembly elections are considered, many such disputes are sure to arise given the scale and complexity of the task.

In my capacity as a member of the Constitutional Council, I am committed to upholding the rule of law according to the highest standards. However, if the formation of the Council proceeds as planned and the election date stands at July 26, the Council will be unable to properly perform its duties to ensure an election that is valid under the Constitution.


Doyen of the Constitutional Council

President of the National Assembly, 1959 to 1968

May 22, 1998


The Democratic Party, which competed in the UN-organized elections in 1993, has already appealed (on April 21) to the United Nations and the Friends of Cambodia to support the rule of law in the process leading to elections now scheduled for July 26, 1998.

We have already protested (on May 7) that our party has been unable to register for the elections because we could not appeal our rejection by the Ministry of Interior to the Constitutional Council. Article 25 of the Law on Political Parties gives us that right, but the Council was not formed yet, so we were illegally denied our rights.

Therefore we ask the Constitutional Council to take up our case as soon as the Council is legally convened, and to decide whether the May 7 deadline for political parties to register can be constitutional or not.

Furthermore, we join with the National United Front in rejecting the date of July 26 for the elections. It is not possible that the problems of intimidation, cheating, coercion, and legal shortcomings that make this election less and less legitimate can be rectified far enough ahead of that date to create acceptable legal elections.

We urge the United Nations and the international sponsors of this electoral process to withdraw their support of the July 26 date and insist that the elections be carried out legally and fairly, according to international standards.



President of the Democratic Party

Former Prime Minister of Cambodia

50 Khnang # 4, Phum 3, Sangkat Chruy Changvar, Khan Russei Keo, Phnom Penh. Phone: 018 813 064

REDEK party protests its exclusion from the 1998 elections in Cambodia

May 22, 1998

The Republic Democracy Khmer party (REDEK), a registered participant in the UN-organized elections in 1993, wants to draw the attention of the United Nations and the Friends of Cambodia to the fact that it has been unable to register for the next elections now scheduled for July 26, 1998.

On May 7, the deadline for party and candidate registration, the Ministry of Interior denied the Republic Democracy Khmer party the right to participate in the next elections. But we had no chance to appeal this decision to the Constitutional Council, as is our right under Article 25 of the Law on Political Parties, because the Council had not formed yet.

We hereby:

• denounce the unconstitutionality, the inconsistency, and the unfairness of the current electoral process.

• submit our case to the Constitutional Council and ask it to examine the facts and the law as soon as possible, and to rule on our registration and the legality of the May 7 registration deadline, which prevented party appeals from being heard.

• support the May 18 statement by the National United Front, rejecting the date of July 26 and calling for acceptable conditions for an election and a new date that allows the process to be free and fair.

We urge the international community not to support or endorse any electoral process that is not conducted in accordance with the supreme law of the country and with internationally recognized criteria for free and fair elections.




Telephone in Phnom Penh:

Ms. Bo Nita, 012-842-033

May 26, 1998

Excellency Ieng Mouly

Minister of Information

Royal Government of Cambodia

Your Excellency:

It is my pleasure to transmit to you this application for one radio broadcasting license and one television broadcasting license in the name of the Sam Rainsy Party. This request is made under Article 41 of the Constitution, which upholds freedom of expression. Previous requests have been made as follows:

On May 30, 1996 I wrote to the Ministry of Information requesting a radio license for the Khmer Nation Party. Secretary of State for Information Khieu Kanharith answered on June 3, saying there was no available frequency, although I suggested FM 102 MHz, which was unused. On Sept 10, 1996, because government sources said that political parties would be refused a license, I wrote to you as a citizen to request a radio license. On October 30 you rejected my request without giving a reason. On March 5, 1997 I wrote to both Prime Ministers, asking for a personal license for radio under Article 41 of the Constitution. First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh approved in principle on the March 6. Second Prime Minister Hun Sen delegated the question to the Ministry of Information. On April 24, Khieu Kanharith wrote to Hun Sen that the Ministry could not give the license because there were already more than enough radio stations for a small country like Cambodia. On December 8, 1997 I met with Hun Sen and requested a radio broadcast license. Hun Sen advised me to find or set up a friendly private company to request a license, and to have that company send its request to him, and he would forward it to the Ministry of Information with a recommendation that it be approved. I followed Hun Sen's advice. On January 16, 1998 the USTE Co., Ltd. applied to the Ministry of Information for an FM radio broadcast license. On February 23, 1998. I wrote to Hun Sen reminding him of his promise. Hun Sen forwarded the application and the application to the Ministry of Information, but on April 4, Khieu Kanharith rejected the request in a letter to Hun Sen, saying there were technical obstacles. A copy of the letter was sent to USTE.

Despite this unsuccessful record,

1. We hereby apply once again for a radio broadcast license. We request to be licensed for at least 10 kW of broadcast power, so that our signal can reach most of the Cambodian population. We notice that the frequency FM 102 MHz is still unused—as 89, 91, 93, 94, 96, 101, 104 and 106 also seem to be—but of course we would accept any standard FM frequency.

2. We also request a television broadcast license for at least 10 kW, similar to the Funcinpec-controlled station that was taken over last July.

We hope and expect that you will immediately grant these licenses and see to it that all necessary permissions are given. The date currently set for the election is exactly two months away and if the elections were to be fair and credible the opposition should have had equitable access to the media long since. Please note that "absence of equitable access to the media by the main political parties and candidates" is one of the conditions that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan listed on April 2, 1998 that would undermine the holding of legitimate elections in Cambodia. So far it is clear that there has been no serious attempt to solve this problem.


Sam Rainsy

President, Sam Rainsy Party

cc: His Excellency Kofi Annan,

Secretary General of the United Nations

Phnom Penh, May 27, 1998

Samdech Chau Sen Cocsal Chhum

Doyen of the Constitutional Council

Subject: Appeal against the decision to expel one member of the National Assembly.

I write to you in your capacity as Doyen of the Constitutional Council, the role of which is set out in Chapter X (Articles 117 to 125) of the Constitution.

I hereby file an appeal to the Constitutional Council regarding my expulsion from the National Assembly on June 22, 1995. I request that the Constitutional Council, as soon as it is legally created and can legally meet, examine and rule on this case.

According to legal experts, including Mr. Reginald Austin, who headed the UNTAC Electoral Component and was the principal author of the Electoral Law under which the 1993 election was organized by the United Nations, the decision to expel a member of the National Assembly is illegal. Such a decision is in conflict with Article 77 of the Constitution, which reads: "The deputies in the Assembly shall represent the entire Khmer people, not only Khmers from their constituencies. Any imperative mandate shall be nullified."

I request that once all legal requirements are met, the Constitutional Council rule on the constitutionality of my expulsion, and on whether I should be formally reinstated in my seat in the National Assembly. Even though the current term of the National Assembly is going to end shortly, it is a matter of principle that justice be rendered to my constituents and to me. When I registered my complaint to the President of the National Assembly, Samdech Chea Sim, at the time of my expulsion, he suggested that I should address my case to the Constitutional Council. For almost three years, to follow that suggestion has been a logical impossibility. Now that there may be a chance that the issue of my expulsion could be addressed in accordance with the Constitution, I ask you to introduce this case as soon as you feel it is legally appropriate. With my sincere thanks and respectful regards,

Sam Rainsy

Elected Member of the National Assembly

for Siem Reap province

cc: His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk

Samdech Chea Sim, President of the National Assembly United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan Friends of Cambodia

Inter-Parliamentary Union


June 10, 1998


The Regulation 6 of the National Election Committee's (NEC) Media Guideline violates the Constitution and fails to observe press freedom accorded in the Media Law 1995; and worst still, it violates the basic freedom of expression and the public's right to know in the highest order, according to the General-Secretary of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr Yim Sokha.

In a press conference this morning, the NEC clarified its media guideline Provision 6, which prohibits, during the official campaign period scheduled from 25 June to 24 July, all commercial media groups, including cable television, from directly or indirectly broadcasting any materials that can be construed to be of service to any political entities.

"It is a clear breach of Article 41 of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression, press, publication, and assembly to all Khmer citizens. It also fails to conform with the Media Law 1995, which does not limit the media's political tendency", says Yim Sokha.

" It is rather ridiculous for the NEC to suggest that if a newspaper wishes to publish any materials in favour of a political party, and to comply with the Provision 6, it will have to do the same favour for the other 38 competing parties", says the SRP General Secretary.

"On the other hand, if the media decide not to publish or broadcast any political materials at all during the official campaign period, the public will be deprived of its right to know, which is not acceptable, especially in the most crucial time of the elections process", argues Yim Sokha.

"Meanwhile, the State run media, which are effectively controlled by the ruling Party, are excluded from the provision. This means they can have a free hand in reporting events to promote the ruling Party under a pretext of government business", says Yim Sokha.

"The Provision must be repealed", demands Yim Sokha.


June 9, 1998

"Go away, you're too short."

— a local government official to a hopeful voter, Tuol Sanke, Phnom Penh

Every stage of the electoral process must be fair and well-organized in order for an election to reflect the will of the people. The most perfectly run polling day cannot make the election fair if registration was unfair. How does the electoral process in Cambodia measure up?

Open political climate, freedom from fear

FAIL: About 100 government opponents murdered; no progress in investigations. March 30, 1997 grenade massacre unsolved. Ruling party (CPP) officials bullying and threatening citizens.

Laws and legal, neutral institutions in place and constitutionally sound

FAIL: Late and illegal formation of these bodies at every level. Near-total domination by ruling party. Under-funded election commission officials admit their lack of preparation.

Open selection process for candidates/parties

FAIL: Several parties denied registration without chance for appeal as legal structure did not exist. Potential opposition bought off, intimidated, and handicapped by coup, subsequent theft of resources in July 1997.

Registration allows all eligible voters a reasonable chance to register

FAILING: Widespread irregularities heavily favor the ruling party. Countless violations committed by election staff, ruling party organizers, local government officials determining who can register and who cannot. Between five and fifteen percent of electorate illegally excluded for lack of means to register them.

Electorate has access to wide range of information

FAILING: Ruling party runs all local TV and most local radio and enforces blackout on opposition and news favorable to it. Most Cambodians have no access to newspapers. Proposed rule would allow ruling party to select all news coverage that could favor one party or another. Opposition requests for broadcast licenses denied.

Electorate is properly informed about voting procedures and secrecy of the ballot

FAILING: The credibility of the secrecy of the ballot is already being destroyed by rumor and innuendo, for example, that computers will be able to identify fingerprints on ballots. Ruling party functionaries are collecting registration cards and numbers to give the impression they can track people's votes.

Polling day is run efficiently, with secret balloting and no intimidation or cheating

UNKNOWN: The same difficulties will be faced as during registration—except that all 11,000 stations will run on the same day instead of over four weeks. Impossible to monitor effectively.

Ballots are tabulated and reported accurately, and verified legally

UNKNOWN: The current plan is to count them at the commune (county) level; there will be too many counting locations for anybody but the local CPP officials to monitor effectively.

Results are respected by all parties, government is legally constituted in accordance with results

UNKNOWN, however the 1993 election results were not respected by the CPP.




June 8, 1998

We do not want to obstruct or block the process of elections in Cambodia, but we do want to ensure that it is as fair and legal as possible. We see that the CPP government has been using illegal means to create the mechanisms and legal bodies necessary for elections, and that they have been using these illegal means because they want to make the elections unfair. It is the desire to ensure victory that creates the need for unfairness, which in turn drives them to do things illegally. The way to correct the situation is to return to the basic goals of the entire process, which are spelled out in the Constitution: to have a democracy in Cambodia by having elections and by making those elections fair, by implementing Constitutional mechanisms properly and legally. There is enough flexibility in the law for the government to do that in reasonable time, if they so desire.

As for the Council: The Constitution and the Law on the Council is designed to create an impartial body to rule on law including election law and to be the last resort for those who appeal the decisions of lower level bodies. The Council must be fair, and the means by which the law requires it to be created are intended to make it fair. The substance of our objection now is the composition of the Council. Our complaints about the illegalities in its formation are merely complaints about the illegal ways that the CPP government has controlled the composition of the Council, apparently so that the CPP can dominate its decisions.

The Council is supposed to have nine members: three appointed by the King, three appointed by the National Assembly, and three appointed by the Supreme Council of Magistracy. In order for elections to go forward and to be fair, there must be a fair and credible Council. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General has recognized the paramount importance of this to the elections, and so do we.

So how can we achieve that? We must trace back the steps used by the CPP government in its attempts to create a stacked Council, and see how it might be possible to correct them quickly, yet fairly. Firstly, the three members chosen by the CPP through the National Assembly must present their credentials and prove that they meet the qualifications listed in the Constitution. If they cannot, then the Assembly will have to appoint new ones.

Secondly, the SCM must be reconstituted so that its membership meets the requirements of the Law on the SCM. That means that several posts that are now vacant must be filled (General Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, and Chief Judge of Appeals), and that the three positions that are to be named transitionally by the Minister of Justice be named either by him or by the Secretary of State for Justice, and no one else, so that the SCM can meet legally and appoint three members to the Council—a stage which has not occurred yet. Then these three must also present their credentials and prove their eligibility.

We would like to see the government present a reasonable timeline to carry out these steps. It is not too high a price to pay in order to put in place this essential component of a fair election. Waiting to rectify this problem, or ignoring it entirely will not make it go away. If things have reached the point at which it is difficult or time-consuming for rectify, that is the fault of the government, which has failed to replace people in their posts in a timely manner and has contravened normal legal procedures.

The ruling party should not be rewarded for this campaign, but we do not argue that it should be punished either. We only argue that the Council be constituted legally so that it can credibly examine laws and procedures, as it is constitutionally required to do.

Note that the Council itself is obligated to consider all the cases brought before it, and to meet certain timetables itself. Some of these deadlines have already been missed, and rights that are guaranteed by law have fallen in the breach.

Let us see the government demonstrate its good faith by doing what the Constitution and the law require.




June 9, 1998

One article of the Law on Elections of Members of Parliament (LEMP), Article 124, provides for disqualification or fines against a party for certain violations that it lists. In this document we summarize the main violations that the CPP has already committed during the period of voter registration. The article sets a minimum penalty of a five million riel fine, and a maximum of a twenty-five million riel fine plus disqualification from the election.

LEMP Article 124 appears under the section, "Penalties". The relevant portions read: The NEC shall…delete a candidacy of a…political party running for election and/or condemn to pay a fine from five million riels to twenty-five million riels…for any…political party who committed any one of the offenses hereunder:

The CPP has committed not just one but several of the offenses. The principal ones are as follows:

- using force or violence or intimidation, preventing the citizens, who have the right to vote, to go for registration or receiving the voter's cards.

Intervention by CPP-appointed commune chiefs and deputies at registration stations has been reported widely in the capital and across the country, by party observers, by international observers and by journalists. The most typical scenario is that the CPP commune chief sits in front of the station and simply rejects people as he sees fit, telling them to go away or telling election staff to reject them. Our observers have reported CPP observers with guns inside the registration stations.

- inciting the supporters or voters to commit abuses, threats, violence against other candidates or political parties.

Perhaps the most flagrant violation so far has been a threat on the life of a top SRP member. The newspaper, Chakraval, which is close to the CPP, ran an article quoting unnamed people threatening to kill Son Chhay, a candidate of the SRP and a current Member of Parliament. Son Chhay received a further threat on the telephone; when he called back to the same number, a Chakraval editor answered and said that Om Yen Tieng, a top adviser to the CPP's Hun Sen, had told him to run the original article.

- making pressures or threats or compulsion the citizens to swear that they will only vote for his/her political party or any political party that he/she likes.

The CPP has organized a nation-wide campaign to coerce people into putting their thumbprint to a promise that they will vote for the CPP. The campaign is proposed in a 154-page election strategy plan that was written about in the Phnom Penh Post on June 5, 1998, and has been documented extensively by that and other newspapers. The CPP appoints cell leaders, each of whom is responsible for filling a book with ten people's promised to vote for the CPP.

- using force or violence or intimidation or using humiliation to cause fear and misunderstanding which lead to confusion and loss the confidence on the secrecy of the ballot.

We have received reports, and newspapers have documented cases of people told by CPP officials that their vote will be known, or that a new computer system donated by Australia will be able to identify their ballots and who they voted for. The Cambodia Daily has reported a new CPP campaign to collect people's voter cards and then return them later—a pointless exercise except to make people think there is a way to track their voting.

- buying vote with proposing materials and money.

There are also many reported cases of CPP-appointed village chiefs asking people in their village to promise to vote for CPP in exchange for gifts of shirts, sarongs, MSG and the like.

Also, Hun Sen himself, as reported in the Cambodia Daily, stated publicly that the thumbprints collected in the campaign mentioned above are used as receipts for gifts of MSG from the party. Since the prints go on a promise to vote for CPP, it is vote-buying.

Many official complaints have been filed at the National Election Commission on these violations, by the SRP and by others. So far no disciplinary action has been taken, and the NEC admits it lacks the ability to investigate the complaints.

Phnom Penh, June 11, 1998


The government apparently is still bent on foisting its false Constitutional Council onto the people of Cambodia, in the effort to make its defective electoral process appear palatable to the international community.

The latest effort comes in the form of an invitation, dated June 9, from His Excellency Pung Peng Cheng to his fellow appointees, for a meeting on June 15. We will not comment on whether this invitation is genuine or freely given, or on what His Excellency's intentions may be, because we have no knowledge of these things. We will restrict our comments to the question of whether this invitation is legally binding or constitutes a legal invitation that meets the requirements to convene a legitimate Council.

There are two serious legal problems, either of which alone precludes this meeting from being a legal meeting. (These are aside from the fact that at least three of the supposed members have been appointed illegally by the CPP through its hastily and illegally assembled Supreme Council of Magistracy.)

1. Pung Peng Cheng writes the invitation as dean, saying that he is "present". Article 39 of the Law on Organization and Functioning of the Constitutional Council does require that the first meeting be convened by the oldest member who is present. If "present" means present at the meeting itself, then we do not know yet who is the oldest and the law does not make sense. If present means present at the swearing-in ceremony, then the government has reversed its interpretation, as it previously offered up an invitation which it had pressured Samdech Chao Sen Cocsal Chhum into signing (by his account), and he was not at any swearing-in ceremony. Moreover, although the Law requires members of the Council to swear an oath, it does not recognize or mention a swearing-in ceremony in any form, so to be "present" at such a ceremony can have no meaning in terms of the requirements of Article 39. If "present" means present in Cambodia, then the meeting must be convened by Samdech Son Sann. This last appears to be the most viable interpretation, particularly as it parallels the situation of the President of the National Assembly acting as Head of State while the King is outside Cambodia.

2. The invitation refers to this as the "first meeting" of the Council. The government's poor efforts to form its stacked Council have already failed, as Article 39 clearly states that the first meeting of the Council must be convened within a period of seven days after the Royal decree on appointment of the members has been issued. The Royal decree was issued on May 24, so this deadline expired on May 31. Even the previous efforts to convene the council missed the deadline. The Law is not without reason. It is written to prevent precisely the situation that the CPP-controlled government is trying to create: high legal bodies that are unfairly stacked with the supporters of one party. The difficulties are created by the government. It has had ample opportunity over the past five years to create a Constitutional Council legally and fairly, but did not do so. Now it attempts to hold the election hostage, suddenly demanding that it be permitted to control all of the mechanisms that are intended by the Law and the Constitution to guarantee that the election is fair. It is using the elections as a method of gaining control of the Council, so that the Cambodian Peoples Party can control the interpretation of the law and the Constitution for years into the future. There is a way out. Because the first meeting of the Council is too late and now cannot occur legally—a situation that was brought on by the government's divisive efforts to stack the Council—one of two things seems necessary. Either the Law on the Constitutional Council must be changed to allow a first meeting to occur later, or some of the members of the Council sho-----uld resign, so that new members can be appointed legally and fairly, reflecting the diversity of political backgrounds that is necessary for the nation's highest legal body.

We hope the latter course is taken, in the interest of scheduling free, fair, credible and legal elections as soon as possible.

Phnom Penh, June 11, 1998


On Wednesday June 10, party president Sam Rainsy traveled to Brussels, Belgium, to meet with European Union officials and members of the European Parliament. The EU is one of the major funders of the Cambodian elections, but it has set no standards for judging whether the elections are fair or not.

Rainsy met with Mr. Emiliano Fossati ,the director of EU Assistance for Asia. In the meeting he said that the electoral process must be improved, and asked that the EU support and finance only a fair electoral process, and that it require corrective measures. Mr. Fossati stated his agreement with these concepts and said he would communicate these ideas to EU staff in Cambodia. He further said he did notgive a "blank check" to the Cambodian government and that he would follow the situation closely and reserved the right to withdraw the funding.

Rainsy also visited the European Parliament and met with several Socialist MPs from countries including Belgium and Portugal, and he met with the assistant of Glenys Kinnock, a British Labor member of the European Parliament who will represent the EU as a special envoy during the scheduled polls inlate July. Kinnock herself was not in Brussels.

The party president then spoke before a meeting of Green Party Europe MPs onthe topic of EU poverty assistance. His remarks on the link between human rights and the environment were received with enthusiasm.

Before returning to Paris, Rainsy gave an interview on the topic of the elections to the newspaper La Libre Belgique. The story appeared in that newspaper on June 11.

Bangkok, June 14, 1998

To the Friends of Cambodia:


Cambodian democrats are grateful to the five prominent members of the US Congress who wrote to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on June 11, 1998. The five, Dana Rohrabacher, Benjamin Gilman, Gerald Solomon, Zoe Lofgren and Dan Burton, exposed the unacceptable shortcomings and unfairness of preparations for Cambodia's elections for National Assembly. They requested that the United States call for a postponement of the elections "for at least two months in order to improve the conditions under which the elections will be held." The Members of Congress rightly state that "the criteria specified by the United Nations must be met," and emphasize the need for fair and open registration of voters, equal access to media, formation of the Constitutional Council, and investigation into past acts of political violence.

The extension of the registration period mentioned in the letter must account for the tens of thousands of Cambodian refugees still in Thailand, as well as hundreds of thousands of other Cambodians including factory workers, soldiers, overseas residents and others who have been impeded or completely blocked from registering because they are suspected of sympathizing with opposition parties. The registration process is entirely controlled by Hun Sen's ruling party, which has used intimidation, obstruction, threats, segregation by political affiliation, unscheduled closing of registration centers, and false information to influence the voter rolls. Meanwhile the ruling party's control over the election officials and the lack of any uniform identification system in Cambodia allow it to register its own activists repeatedly and drive up the number of apparently registered voters.

The opposition parties must have at least two months of equitable access to media, especially broadcast media, so that the voters have a reasonable opportunity to collect information from a source other that the ruling party's network of officials. The government should grant broadcast licenses to the major opposition parties (the Sam Rainsy Party was denied a license once again on June 12).

The Constitutional Council must be functioning legally and effectively for at least two months before the polling date so that it can rule on election law, electoral procedures, and election disputes, and its composition must be balanced. The meeting set for June 15 is illegally convened; some Council members are ineligible and others have been chosen illegally.

We urge the Friends of Cambodia, at their meeting in Bangkok on June 20, to take to heart the recommendation of the five Members of the US Congress, andour elaborations on their recommendations, for the sake of democracy in Cambodia.

Sam Rainsy

June 15, 1998



Opposition party president Sam Rainsy lashed out at a registration process he called "hopelessly flawed and terribly biased" in favor of Second Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party.

"The election commission has not even tried to register five percent

of voters who are overseas, tens of thousands who are refugees in Thailand, tens of thousands who live in areas where people are thought to sympathize with the opposition. Soldiers on active duty and factory workers also have been disproportionately prevented from registering," he said.

"There is no way to verify the numbers claimed by the election commission. They can claim any number they want, because any ruling party supporter can be registered over and over again. The figures can be inflated by illegal voters or ghost voters.

Meanwhile, he said, "the people who were not allowed to register will not be able to vote. This alone makes the election hopelessly flawed and terribly biased, in exactly the direction the ruling party wants. The international community should be ashamed of their role in this farce."

Rainsy also announced a peaceful mass demonstration in Phnom Penh for fair elections, planned for Sunday, June 21, the day after the Friends of Cambodia group of nations meets in Bangkok.

"This will be a chance for Cambodians to show the world that they demand fair elections. Those who agree with that message should join us."

* * *For more information please contact Rich Garella on 855 12-802-062.

The Cambodia Daily

June 16, 1998

Unconstitutional Body Kills the Democratic Rule of Law

By Sam Rainsy

The rule of law is drawing its last breath in Cambodia. The Cambodian People's Party is killing it. Waiting in the wings are its pallbearers: the international community, led by the European Union, the United Nations, Australia and Japan.

Monday's meeting of the so-called Constitutional Council, the body that is supposed to rule on disputes over July's National Assembly elections and will rule on the constitutionality of laws for years to come, is clearly and obviously illegal to anyone who reads the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Council.

The CPP has packed its council with its own supporters, who have been chosen illegally and lack the required credentials. The council is now convened far past the legal deadline, by a member who is notlegally empowered to do so. Meanwhile those could legally convene it stand as far from the stench as they can.

This unconstitutional council, lacking the time or the inclination to rule fairly or rule at all on disputes related to the elections, will soon stand at the top of Cambodia's legal structure and stay there for years after the elections. It will rubber-stamp the laws written by the National Assembly-itself owned by the CPP after it wins the elections that have been fixed, start to finish, by the CPP.

Barring a popular uprising, after the death of the rule of law, the rape of Cambodia will continue-but soon, thanks to international aid and support, it will be disguised as a marriage.

At least that is the plan the CPP is carrying out, abetted by the donors and supporters of the Cambodian elections. These donors, led by the European Union, should be ashamed of their role here. If they are not interested in requiring fair elections, they should at least do the Cambodian people the courtesy of packing their bags and getting out, instead of providing camouflage for the CPP's grab for legitimacy and cover for their own hypocritical efforts.

If they want to help bring democracy to Cambodia, they will say now that the election preparations do not measure up. They will begin to release the information they have collected. They will withhold further election funding pending a significant delay in the polling date and correction of conditions, including most notably fair and open registration, equitable access to media, effective legal institutions, and real investigation of political terror.

If they do not care about democracy in Cambodia, but only want to paper over their past failures and walk away, leaving this country in the grip of an ever-smaller, ever more paranoid band of exploiters, then they should carry on as they are. They will show that the lessons of the Philippines, of Zaire and Indonesia have gone unlearned.

Monday's meeting of the CPP's illegal council is a test for the international community. Will they demand a real Council and give the rule of law a last chance, or are they here only to help the CPP dig a grave for it?

Phnom Penh, June 15, 1998



I, Sam Rainsy, appeal to all Cambodian compatriots who are democrats and love freedom and justice to participate in a peaceful mass demonstration organized by the Sam Rainsy Party to demand a truly free and fair election in the near future. As Cambodian citizens, we must demand measures to change the current election process, which is wrong-a violation of law and justice that we as democrats cannot accept. The main problems that give rise to our opposition and our demand for corrective measures are:

1. Permitting of foreigners toregister to vote.

2. The rejection of tens of thousand of Cambodian citizens by the NEC, which has created obstacles and difficulties in the registration process. Among those citizens whose rights have been violated are factory workers, office employees, soldiers who have been deployed far from their residential areas, the youth and the poor who have no identification papers and have difficulty securing witnesses, and people who live in remote rural areas at the Khmer-Thai border, and Cambodian citizens who live abroad.

3. The arrangement and transportation of active members of the ruling party so that each of those members can register multiple times at different places by using different identity cards for one person, in a scheme to become eligible to vote many times.

4. Threats by the authorities in rural areas against people, coercing them to become members of the ruling party and forcing them to promise to vote for that party.

5. A scheme to rig or switch the ballot boxes that will alter the result of the election against the will of the people.

The mass demonstration is to be held on Sunday June 21, at 7:30 in the morning at Olympic Stadium and march through certain streets of Phnom Penh.

June 16, 1998

[signed, Sam Rainsy]

(The following letter is presented by Sam Rainsy, President of the Sam Rainsy Party, to the "Friends of Cambodia" meeting)

Bangkok, June 19, 1998

Esteemed Friends of Cambodia,

In the knowledge that we share the common goal of promoting a fair electoral process in Cambodia that includes the political opposition to the ruling party, we ask you to help pave the way for the Sam Rainsy Party and other opposition parties to participate in the elections.

As you know, we have rejected the date of July 26 for the polls, because of the many shortcomings in the electoral process. But one of the key obstacles preventing us from pledging to participate in elections is the unpredictable level of risk. We will accept the results of a reasonably fair election and the normal risks inherent in a fair election, but we cannot predict the degree to which the elections will be unfair.

However, if we and the ruling party both knew the ground rules for international acceptance, the risk for us would be much reduced. Our supporters would know that if the elections are badly corrupted, the international community will stand with us in rejecting the results. We suggest to you to set standards which will be used to evaluate the fairness of the elections. Such standards will have a positive impact on our decision to the extent that they come close to these goals:

They should be clear and measurable.

There should be a public process for evaluating the government's progress in meeting them.

The consequences of failing should be made clear. They should be broadly endorsed by the sponsors and observing nations and bodies.

They should be drafted as soon as possible, and stated publicly to the Cambodian government.

We know that to create such standards will be a difficult task, and we understand that some compromises may be necessary, but we trust that you understand the grave risk we are undertaking as well.

Sam Rainsy

President, SRP

Phnom Penh, June 19, 1998

(written by SRP Cabinet staff)


Sam Rainsy Party staff today identified "with 100 percent certainty" a body unearthed Wednesday in a rubber plantation in Kompong Cham as the corpse of Em Eam, 62, a member of the staff of the district SRP office.

SRP district staff report that Em Eam disappeared at 7am on June 10, when he left his home in the village of Srae Krom, Vihear Suong commune, Tbong Khmum district to return to the office after a two-day visit.

While he was missing, other staff went to his village to search for him. They found out that he had been arrested by a group of armed men on June 10. They widened their search, but on June 17, at 11am, they heard about a dead body found in the rubber plantation of Mr. Prom Ean, in Sangkum Tmei village, Loveang commune, Tbong Khmum district.

"We demand an investigation of this crime," said Eng Chhay Eang, chief of Sam Rainsy's cabinet. "If there is any chance for democracy in this country, the people who order and commit acts of political terror must be found and punished."


An SRP signboard in front of a party office on one of Cambodia's main highways was shot on Wednesday, June 17, while United Nations staff were in the office.

The sign, which is along National Route 1 in near the market of Kompong Trabek, in Prey Veng province, was damaged by one bullet. At least one witness saw two men in military uniforms shoot the sign at 9pm. Among other incidents, SRP signs have been shot before in Kompong Cham and attacked by CambodianPeople's Party supporters armed with axes in Koh Kong province.

"Once again, it's an obvious warning," said Eng Chhay Eang. "It's a way to tell people what could happen to them if they support the opposition."

Both of these cases have been reported to the Cambodia Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN.



This is a sampling of the major problems we have seen with the Cambodian electoral process so far. There are many other examples and types of violations. Some are documented in reports by Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, COMFREL (a Cambodian election-watching group) and others.

Political Problems

1. Several opposition party officials and supporters have been murdered in the past two months (in addition to at least 100 since last July's coup by Hun Sen). Local officials loyal to the ruling party blame these on simple robberies or personal disputes. People observing for opposition parties or filing complaints have been threatened with guns inside registration stations. 2. Opposition party office signs have been shot during the night and attacked with axes.

3. Opposition candidates have been threatened; in one case a sitting Member of the National Assembly received a death threat in the form of a front page article in a newspaper that supports Hun Sen. 4. The ruling party has operated a national campaign to collect people's thumbprints in books containing an oath to vote for them. Asking for such an oath is illegal, yet it is ordered in the ruling party's official campaign planning book. 5. Party officials often accompany people to register, and election official have refused to register those who were unaccompanied or did not have proof of ruling party membership. In other cases, local party bosses sit outside registration stations and screen people as they try to enter.

6. Party bosses have illegally told election officials to register people who lack credentials, including those who are not Cambodian citizens.

7. Ruling party officials all over the country have illegally given "gifts" of household items in return for promises to support or vote for the party.

8. Ruling party officials have collected people's voting cards in aneffort to make people think their votes can be tracked.

Legal Problems

1. The Constitutional Council is the ultimate interpreter of laws including the election law, and the final arena for election-related disputes such as disputes over voter registration, the performance of the election committees, etc. The government has assembled it illegally in order to pack it with ruling party supporters, and it has done so five years late, less than six weeks before the polls, and well after the deadline set by the Constitution. 2. The government filled the Supreme Council of Magistracy with ruling party supporters who do not legally qualify to be on it. Then the Supreme Council nominated three members of the Constitutional Council.

3. The ruling party used parliamentary maneuvering to fill the National Election Commission (NEC), which organizes the entire election, almost exclusively withits own supporters. The NEC then selected the provincial committees, which selected the communal committees, which selected the polling station personnel. Every level has been packed with ruling party supporters. 4. The NEC has specifically denied between five and ten percent of the electorate its constitutional right to vote, by failing to provide them any reasonable means to register. The NEC has announced that there will be no effort to register tens of thousands of refugees. Similarly, soldiers on active duty, many factory workers, people in some areas of the country where anti-government feeling is stronger, and citizens overseas have been given no means to register. All of these groups tend to favor the opposition.

Technical Problems

1. All national and local electronic media are controlled by the ruling party and have enforced a blackout on opposition activities. NEC rules maintain that blackout except for a free five minutes per day per party during the 30-day "official campaign". 2. The registration period has been delayed to the point that people do not have time to appeal their rejections or challenge possible illegal registrations. Election commissions have arbitrarily limited the number of complaints they will hear, or simply said they have no time or resources to consider complaints. Few of the complaints that have been filed by the Sam Rainsy Party have even been acknowledged. 3. Even if the Constitutional Council were neutral and legal it would not have time to address the complaints and legal issues. At least two parties have been denied their right to appeal their rejections because the Council did not exist. The time limits on submitting protests and appealing voter rejections cannot be met in the remaining period before the election.

4. The election commission has not informed people about where and when to register. Some registration offices have been moved without notice. In some places, the only people telling locals where to register have been ruling party officials, who only inform their loyalists.

5. Registration offices have commonly been shut down whenthey are supposed to be open, leaving people with no information about where to go instead.

6. Some registration offices have been swamped by hopeful voters, especially factory workers who are given only a few hours off work to register. When the office cannot keep up with the numbers, many of the workers must return to work without having registered.


Phnom Penh, June 20, 1998


Two days after the body of SRP district staff member Em Eam was discovered in a rubber plantation in Cambodia's Kompong Cham province, a second worker in the same office has been found to be missing.

Pin Bunthoen, 32, of Veal Vong village, Rokha Por Pram commune, Tbong Khmum district left home on June 10 to go to the SRP office in Tbong Khmum. But he never arrived there. Because the other office workers did not realize that he had intended to come to that office, they did not know anything was amiss. On June 19 his wife came to the office looking for him, and only then did the staff realize that he had been missing for more than a week.

Similarly, Em Eam left his home in a different village on June 10 to go to the Tbong Khmum office. His body was found on June 17. The United Nations human rights office in Cambodia is investigating the case.

"This has all the signs of another political killing by the ruling party," said Eng Chhay Eang, the chief of party president Sam Rainsy's cabinet. "We believe they have murdered both Pin Bunthoen and Em Eam. Between this and the murders of the two Funcinpec supporters last week, it's starting to look like a real campaign of terror before the elections."

Phnom Penh, June 15, 1998



I, Sam Rainsy, appeal to all Cambodian compatriots who are democrats and love freedom and justice to participate in a peaceful mass demonstration organized by the Sam Rainsy Party to demand a truly free and fair election in the near future. As Cambodian citizens, we must demand measures to change the current election process, which is wrong-a violation of law and justice that we as democrats cannot accept. The main problems that give rise to our opposition and our demand for corrective measures are:

1. Permitting of foreigners toregister to vote.

2. The rejection of tens of thousand of Cambodian citizens by the NEC, which has created obstacles and difficulties in the registration process. Among those citizens whose rights have been violated are factory workers, office employees, soldiers who have been deployed far from their residential areas, the youth and the poor who have no identification papers and have difficulty securing witnesses, and people who live in remote rural areas at the Khmer-Thai border, and Cambodian citizens who live abroad.

3. The arrangement and transportation of active members of the ruling party so that each of those members can register multiple times at different places by using different identity cards for one person, in a scheme to become eligible to vote many times.

4. Threats by the authorities in rural areas against people, coercing them to become members of the ruling party and forcing them to promise to vote for that party.

5. A scheme to rig or switch the ballot boxes that will alter the result of the election against the will of the people.

The mass demonstration is to be held on Sunday June 21, at 7:30 in the morning at Olympic Stadium and march through certain streets of Phnom Penh.

June 16, 1998

[signed, Sam Rainsy]

(The following letter is presented by Sam Rainsy, President of the Sam Rainsy Party, to the "Friends of Cambodia" meeting)

Bangkok, June 19, 1998

Esteemed Friends of Cambodia,

In the knowledge that we share the common goal of promoting a fair electoral process in Cambodia that includes the political opposition to the ruling party, we ask you to help pave the way for the Sam Rainsy Party and other opposition parties to participate in the elections.

As you know, we have rejected the date of July 26 for the polls, because of the many shortcomings in the electoral process. But one of the key obstacles preventing us from pledging to participate in elections is the unpredictable level of risk. We will accept the results of a reasonably fair election and the normal risks inherent in a fair election, but we cannot predict the degree to which the elections will be unfair.

However, if we and the ruling party both knew the ground rules for international acceptance, the risk for us would be much reduced. Our supporters would know that if the elections are badly corrupted, the international community will stand with us in rejecting the results. We suggest to you to set standards which will be used to evaluate the fairness of the elections. Such standards will have a positive impact on our decision to the extent that they come close to these goals:

They should be clear and measurable.

There should be a public process for evaluating the government's progress in meeting them. The consequences of failing should be made clear. They should be broadly endorsed by the sponsors and observing nations and bodies. They should be drafted as soon as possible, and stated publicly to the Cambodian government.

We know that to create such standards will be a difficult task, and we understand that some compromises may be necessary, but we trust that you understand the grave risk we are undertaking as well.

Sam Rainsy

President, SRP

Phnom Penh, June 20, 1998

Invitation to the Foreign Diplomatic Corps in Cambodia

Your Excellencies,

The organizers of the Sunday, June 21 demonstration for fair elections in Cambodia, invite all foreign ambassadors and charges d'affaires to walk with Sam Rainsy tomorrow morning and to stand with him at the demonstration.

Sunday's demonstration is not a political rally to support or promote the Sam Rainsy Party or Sam Rainsy. It is and has been promoted as a politically neutral event, supporting only free and fair elections. All who support free and fair elections in Cambodia have been invited to participate. Your attendance at this orderly and peaceful demonstration will not be promoted or presented in any way as a sign of support for the Sam Rainsy Party or any political entity.

We particularly hope that those diplomats or officials who represent countries and international organizations which are financially supporting the electoral process will show their faith that as the scheduled polling day approaches, the citizens of Cambodia are able to assemble and to express themselves freely, without fear of violence.

We believe that the Cambodian people, and the observers of the situation in Cambodia will be heartened by your attendance and your support for fair elections. It will be a vote of confidence and testimony to your true belief that conditions in Cambodia are sufficient for fair elections.

Please confirm your attendance by calling Rich Garella on 012-802-062, or simply join us at the Olympic Stadium between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. From there we will walk east along Sihanouk Boulevard, and then north on Sothearos Boulevard to the park across from the National Assembly.

With the highest regard and consideration,


Eng Chhay Eang

for the Cabinet of the Sam Rainsy Party

Newspapers Reject Limits On Press

24 June 1998

We, the Cambodian newspaper editors who signed below, reject the National Election Commission's Media Guideline that violates our constitutional right of freedom of the press during the electoral campaign period.

Tomorrow, 25 June is the first day of the official campaign. During the campaign, Provision 6 of the Media Guideline prohibits all commercial media groups from publishing any materials that can be construed to be of service to any political entities.

Provision 6 violates Article 41 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression, press, and publication. It also violates the press freedom accorded in the Media Law of 1995.

Moreover it violates the basic freedom of expression and the public's right to know, which is especially unacceptable before an election when people should have the right to hear any kind of information.

Therefore, we the undersigned will disregard this provision and go on publishing as we have been, without changing at all, even if we have to risk our own safety.

We ask for the support of all international organizations to help us keep our freedom and our ability to inform readers according to our responsibility as journalists.


Meas Sok, editor

Oudomkatek Khmer (Khmer Ideal) newspaper

Un Sokhom, editor

Proyuth News (Struggle) newspaper

Tep Setha, director

Smardey Khmer (Khmer Spirit) newspaper

Dam Sithik, editor

Moneaksekar Khmer (Khmer Conscience) newspaper

Keo Sothea, editor

Samleng Youchon (Voice of Youth) newspaper

Sao Puthpong, publisher

Angkor Thmey (New Temple) newspaper

Phnom Penh, June 24, 1998

The following letter appeared in The Cambodia Daily on June 25, 1998.

To the Editor:

Some quotations translated from my past speeches have contributed to an inaccurate impression of my beliefs and of the Sam Rainsy Party's beliefs about ethnic groups in Cambodia. In particular I refer to the article "Rainsy leads 2000 Protesters" (June 22).

It is not accurate to translate my statement Sunday as saying that voting is "our right as pure Cambodians." We are talking about the elections, so I speak of "real Cambodians," meaning Cambodian citizens, who can vote. To speak about "pure Cambodians" is nonsense. There are no pure Cambodians; we are a mix of all kinds. Furthermore, this is the language of ethnic cleansing, of racism, of Nazism, repugnant philosophies that I reject in the strongest terms.

I and my party oppose equally the registration of non-citizens for the vote and the denial of registration to citizens. Both are contrary to the Constitution. Whether a person is of Vietnamese extraction, or any particular ethnicity, is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is whether he or she is a citizen. We believe that Hun Sen's political organization has violated this principle widely during registration in order to deny the chance to vote to people who are likely to support opposition parties and to illegally register ineligible people to vote. We do not operate with such a double standard; we will aid any person who believes they have been improperly denied the right to vote, or who objects to what he or she believes is an improper registration.

The Sam Rainsy Party rejects all forms of ethnic discrimination. Every Cambodian citizen must be equal in the eyes of the law, whether he or she is of Khmer, Cham, Vietnamese, Khmer Loeu, or any other ethnic background. There can be no doubt on this point. Non-citizens and illegal immigrants of any ethnicity or nationality do not have the rights that are limited to Cambodian citizens, such as the right to vote in Cambodian elections, but they are human beings with the same dignity and the same human rights as anyone else.




RAINSY LAYS OUT CHALLENGE AT RALLY OF THOUSANDS Show us your assets, says party president to rivals

On the opening day of the official electoral campaign over 7,000 people turned out to see the Sam Rainsy Party's 24 candidates for Phnom Penh, led by former National Bank president Tioulong Saumura. The rally, under burning sun that drove some of the audience to seek shelter, featured a speech by party president Sam Rainsy.

After stating the determination of the 24 candidates for PP to address the 10-point program to serve the not only the people of the capital but the whole population, Rainsy spoke on economic issues and national reconciliation. Then he challenged the other party leaders to disclose their assets and where they got them

"To promote transparency and to uphold honesty, the leaders of the Sam Rainsy Party, starting with its president, will declare their assets and show people how much money they have, where they got it from, when they got it and how they got it," said Rainsy.

"In total I have about $600,000, mainly in France. My house there is worth $500,000. In Cambodia I have about$50,000 worth of money and property. I was a businessman in France for 20 years, and all my earnings are recorded by the tax department in France. I have never been involved in any corruption in Cambodia. "I challenge the leaders of the main political parties to do the same. I ask one leader, he claims to have built 2000 schools bearing his name. Each school costs about $40,000 so the value is $80 million. I ask him, where when how did he get that $80 million?"

Rainsy pointed out that as Minister of Finance he earned $70 a month and that the highest salary in the government now is only $2500 or so a month, so it would take 2666 years to earn $80 million legitimately.

Rainsy also called the people to abide by the King's appeal to voters: "to go to vote freely, with courage and to vote according to their conscience." Rainsy suggested three measures to ensure that the next election will be as free, fair and credible as possible:

1. reopen registration period to include those left out. 2. handle the ballot printing and distribution very carefully to prevent cheating, using serial numbers, on ballots printed abroad. 3. ensure an effective inking system so nobody can vote more than once. Use the same ink everywhere.

He also stressed that the only distinction in registration that his party makes is between citizen and non-citizen. "We are only interested in voting rights," he said.

Tioulong Saumura spoke chiefly on economics:

"The communist-style rule which has reigned over Cambodia for the last 20 years has brought people only war and misery. That's why we have to change the political system and choose new leaders who know how the organize the country into a liberal system which respects human rights, promotes social justice and brings about economic development and prosperity.

"To get social justice for the people I have confidence in president Sam Rainsy, who I have known for 30 years since I was a young student at school and at university with him," she said.

Pou Heng came to the rally from Kompong Speu province. Her daughter Young Sokhnou and niece Young Srey, both factory workers, died in the grenade attack on March 30 1997. She said after the rally:

"I was threatened by authorities in her village, not to go to the opposition rally. I said I like Sam Rainsy and my daughter died for justice.she was killed in the demonstration when grenades were thrown into the crowd. It is why I will continue the struggle. I want Sam Rainsy to win the election, so the new government can get me justice and find out who killed her daughter. I support Sam Rainsy because Sam Rainsy is a man of justice.

THOUSANDS GREET RAINSY ON TRIP TO NORTHWEST Informal surveys indicate registration shortfall By SRP staff

Party president Sam Rainsy, leading a group of SRP supporters from Phnom Penh, drew unexpectedly large crowds throughout a two-and-a-half-day organizing swing through Cambodia's northwestern provinces. Party officials estimated the total turnout at nearly 20,000 people. Local officials and military officials were generally cooperative.

On Monday, June 22, more than 300 Cham Muslims attended a meeting at their mosque in Kompong Tralach Krom, Kompong Chhnang province. Rainsy also held a meeting with about 150 people at a nearby pagoda. In Bakan commune in Pursat province, 1200 people turned out for the SRP meeting.

The biggest numbers turned out at Wat Poh, in Battambang's Mong Russei district, Wat Poh, where despite Rainsy's late arrival, he was greeted by an enormous crowd of 6000 people.

On Tuesday, at Thmar Kol in Battambang district, about 4500 people turned out. Then Rainsy and the SRP group moved on to Banteay Meanchey province, where they were met by 3000 people at Wat Russei Krouk in Mongkol Borei district, and 1500 people in the town of Thmar Pourk.

On Wednesday, 3000 people turned out at Soh Ket commune in Battambang's Svay Por district, although CPP organizers were reported offering gifts of MSG, sarongs and tiger balm to people in exchange for not crossing the river and joining the meeting. Rainsy returned to Phnom Penh at noon on Wednesday.

In informal surveys conducted throughout the trip, SRP organizers found that about one in five people they asked had not registered to vote. This figure contradicts the National Election Commission's claim of 98 percent registration. In the more remote areas the rate appeared to be about 50 percent, an estimate backed by military police who spoke to SRP officials.

Phnom Penh, June 27, 1998

Open Letter from Sam Rainsy

to Cambodian Public Figures of All Political Affiliations [translation]

Samdechs, Excellencies,

In the next election the Cambodian people will have the historic opportunity to decide on the future of our country. On that occasion the people will specify what type of society they want to live in. I believe that the Cambodian people want to live in a society where there is peace, freedom and justice. I believe that you, Samdechs and Excellencies, also love peace, freedom and justice and want to respect the will of the people.

In this spirit I appeal to all political figures who are patriotic and democratic, who love the motherland and democracy, to work together in order to resolve all national problems by putting national interest above any other consideration.

You, Samdechs and Excellencies, have knowledge and experience in different fields which are related to the development of our country. When the Sam Rainsy Party receives the mandate from the Cambodian people to re-organize our country, I appeal to you all, Samdechs and Excellencies, to contribute to rebuilding of our country in accord with the will of our people, without discrimination related to your past and your political affiliation.

I strongly hope that all patriotic public figures will work together to ensure the development of our country in all fields while guaranteeing peace, freedom and social justice.

Please, Samdechs and Excellencies, accept my fraternal sentiments,


Sam Rainsy

Substance of letter from Sin Sen,

former member of CPP Central Committee,

former member of the Supreme National Council of Cambodia, former Secretary of State for Interior

to Sam Rainsy,

president of the Sam Rainsy Party,

dated June 29, 1998

[translation by SRP staff]

I am very happy to receive your open letter dated June 27 to public figures of all political affiliations and I thank you for thinking of me in your appeal. [In addition to the open letter, Sam Rainsy sent personal letters to a variety of public figures.]?

The Sam Rainsy Party is now benefiting from large political support?.In reality our people will entrust their destiny to your party?.

I have the obligation to respect the will of the people. I am ready to make all kinds of sacrifices in order to serve the people and the national interest. I welcome and fully support your position and all the activities of the Sam Rainsy Party, which is upholding democracy. I strongly hope that people from all walks of life who have the right to vote in the next election will vote for the Sam Rainsy Party.

- end -

For further information, please call Rich Garella on 012-802-062.

Phnom Penh, July 1, 1998


On Tuesday June 30, in front of the SRP office on Route 5 in Battambang town, about 1000 SRP supporters had gathered to start a convoy parade through Battambang.

At 9:10 am, four men came through the crowd, bringing six parcels which were wrapped in silver paper. In the crowd, no one paid much attention to them. They handed the packages to SRP officials in two vehicles that were joining the convoy, as if they were gifts. One of the men said, "Open it when you're hungry." Then the men went away. But before the convoy left, one of the SRP officials became suspicious and opened one of the packages.

Inside the package were five explosive devices, apparently a kind of land mine, with a lever-type detonating pin. The SRP officials carefully and quickly removed the packages from the scene. The other packages contained the same as the first.

"It's a campaign of intimidation, and everybody knows it. The threats and the violence all comes from one side, Hun Sen's organization," said Eng Chhay Eang, chief of Sam Rainsy's cabinet.

The incident has been reported to LICADHO's Battambang office. The packages are being kept by SRP in Battambang, and are being photographed.

- end -

For more information, call Lon Phon in Battambang on 855-15-832-443 (Lon Phon is the lead SRP candidate in Battambang) or Rich Garella on 855-12-802-062 in Phnom Penh.


July 3, 1998

I, Sam Rainsy, president of the Sam Rainsy Party, appeal to the armed forces, police forces and security forces of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Before the election, I appeal to these forces to:

· not favor any party above any other party

· not use violence against the people who are organizing legally

· not interfere with people's ability to vote, nor follow any illegal order

· help preserve peace and freedom for the Cambodian people

After the election, if the results are certified as free and fair by the international community, coordinated by the United Nations, I appeal to these forces to:

· be ready to defend the new government with all legal force if


· refuse to obey any order by anybody who does not represent the will of the people as shown by the election results

· give your loyalty to the nation and the people of Cambodia, not to any party or individual


Phnom Penh, July 4, 1998


The Secretary-General of the Sam Rainsy Party has invited all those who love justice to a memorial service on the anniversary of the coup of July 5 and 6, 1997. There has been no record made of all of those who died, but we know that many innocent people who had no part in the fighting were deprived of their property, their homes, their loved ones, and for two hundred or more, their lives.

One hundred monks will offer blessings, and prayers will be made to remember the souls of the innocent people who lost their lives in the fighting. Their relatives have been invited to come to the ceremony, but it is open to all people who wish to pay their respects and to make a prayer for peace in Cambodia.

The service will be held on July 6, 1998 from 8:00 to 10:30 am, at the headquarters of the Sam Rainsy Party, 71 Sothearos Blvd in Phnom Penh. Following is the approximate program:

8:00 arrival of guests

8:15 arrival of Sam Rainsy

8:20 National Anthem and respects for all those who died for their country 8:30 comments by Sam Rainsy

9:00 monks begin their blessing

9:30 offerings to monks

10:30 ceremony ends

For more information please call Leng Seng (012-847-424).

July 5, 1998



On June 19, we announced that our political parties would decide on July 5 whether to drop out of the electoral process leading to a vote for National Assembly members on July 26, 1998.

It has been a very difficult decision. We, as opposition parties, cannot know whether conditions for a fair election will improve or deteriorate further. It is the leadership of the ruling party that is in control of those conditions. Similarly, we cannot know whether the results will be respected. We rely on the assurances of the international community that it will do everything possible to keep the ruling party in check.

Unfortunately, political violence appears to be on the rise. Media access is still severely restricted. The ruling party has hijacked key legal institutions such as the Constitutional Council and the National Election Commission. Many citizens were prevented from registering to vote. A free and fair election cannot take place under these conditions.

But as democratic parties we take our lead from the people we serve. The Cambodian people are speaking out and supporting us with bravery and loyalty. This support gives us hope that the people may yet win a peaceful future despite the violent acts and electoral manipulations of the ruling party, and despite the severe shortcomings of electoral conditions.

It is therefore our intention to remain in the race, leading to polling on July 26. We look forward to forming a new government after the elections, and to building a new Cambodia without war, without corruption, without heedless destruction of the environment, with secure borders, and with equal justice for all Cambodians under the Constitution.

We appreciate the efforts of the international community to improve conditions for fairness. In particular we take heart from their efforts to make the polling and ballot-counting secret, secure and free of fraud. Meanwhile, it is not too late to step up international pressure on the ruling party to allow the Cambodian people to express their will freely. We urge as well that as many international observers as possible come to help ensure the integrity of the polls.

We will continue to monitor electoral conditions closely. No one should mistake this statement for an unconditional pledge. We hope that we see only improvements as polling day approaches and that there is no serious deterioration that even further prevents the will of the people from being expressed on polling day. It is particularly important that all voters understand that their vote is secret, and vote according to their conscience as His Majesty the King asks them.

If the opposition parties, the international community, and the Cambodian people share a true commitment to democracy, there may still be a chance that the Cambodian nation can cast off the shadows of the past and walk forward into the light of freedom.

[signed] [signed]

Sam Rainsy Son Soubert

President of Sam Rainsy Party President of Son

Sann Party

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