For the past month, the deputy village chief of a hamlet in rural Cambodia has had a singular focus. A member of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), the deputy chief says he has been instructed to press every adult in the hamlet to vote in Sunday’s national election. “Every day we are telling people of the achievements of the party, that they should be grateful and it’s an obligation to vote,” he wearily told Reuters in his home in Kampong Thom province, on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisals.
“If they don’t vote, they are outside the circle,” said the deputy chief, who is also on a three-member village election committee. “They will face problems with getting general services and donations. They will be discriminated against.”
After abolishing the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) last year, imprisoning its leader for alleged treason and suppressing critical media outlets, the CPP’s leader, Hun Sen, is on course to extend his 33 years as prime minister.