Five opposition party members and activists who were detained on election day in two separate incidents were all released after a few hours of questioning, and will face no charges.
Muon Tabeam and Roeun Rach were taken into custody in Tbong Khmum’s Chan Moul commune after arriving at a polling station on motorbikes with Vietnamese plates.
Police alleged a third party took a picture of the pair and planned to post it to social media in a bid to smear the ruling party and discredit the elections by implying foreigners had voted.
Yesterday, Commune Police Chief Khuong Chhordarith said the pair were released after being questioned, and defended the seemingly pre-emptive arrests as a preventative measure.
“We did this in order to avoid an accusation from the CNRP that Vietnamese are voting,” Chhordarith said.
Chhi Krud, Tabeam’s husband, said the couple arrived with Rach but had no ill intentions.
“We did not pay attention to the Vietnamese plates. My wife and I went to vote we did not realise that somebody took a picture of my motorbike,” Krud said, adding that Tabeam then drove home.
“Police came to my home and took my wife and motorbike to the commune police office for questioning,” he added, saying Tabeam and Rach were released soon after.
Meanwhile, CNRP party members Tim Bona, Oum Dom Din and Chhit Phat were arrested for trying to observe vote counting in Ratanakkiri’s Trapaing Kraham commune, where Dom Din was a candidate.
“I asked my observer why the office closed the door and window during the counting and whether he could tell the office chief to open it,” said Bona.
After they tried again to observe counting, District Police Chief Phouk Borith allegedly arrived to take the men away.
“It violated my rights, because they came to arrest me without a warrant . . . it’s a kind of intimidation to us,” Bona said.
“We questioned them and released them back home,” Borith said, adding that the men violated NEC guidelines.
“Senior members of political parties cannot be standing or loitering around the polling station,” confirmed Pen Chhuny, director of Ratanakkiri’s Provincial Election Committee.