Live Coverage: Commune Election 2017

Update: 1:00 P.M.: 
As the rally pauses for a lunch break near the Cameko City development, supporters are resting in the shade after hours cooking in the sun. They say the day so far has been a success.

Luke Meas, a 32 year-old tuk-tuk driver who was deported from the U.S. to Cambodia in 2011, said the rally was mellower than the ones he attended in 2013, in the wake of that year’s disputed election.
“In 2013, there was so much anger,” he said. “It was a boiling point. Now we have learned from our leader to be more mellow.”

That wraps up our coverage for the day. Read Monday’s paper for a rundown of today’s events and a look forward at the campaign and June 4 commune vote.

Update: 12:00 P.M.: 

(Ben Sokhean/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 11:48 A.M.: 

Watching the rally from an inside a gas station, a 26 year-old Labor Ministry official told me he will vote CPP, but was hesitant to say if this was a choice so much as a requirement.

“You know how it is in Cambodia,” he said.

(Ben Sokhean/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 11:20 A.M.: 

Siv channa 09 copy
(Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 11:00 A.M.: 

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(Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 10:40 A.M.: 

The CNRP procession is moving slowly north as it mingles with regular traffic. Onlookers along National Road 2 watch with various levels of enthusiasm. We just passed a group of military police watching from the shade of a cafe. The mood is mellow.

(Ben Paviour/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 10:29 A.M.: 

Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong gave a speech on behalf of Prime Minister Hun Sen this morning. Here are some quotes from the speech.
“Hun Sen expresses his respect and gratitude for the love from all the people and their belief in the CPP party.”
Siv channa 06
(Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 9:55 A.M.: 

Following an hour-long meeting on Koh Pich this morning with thousands of CPP supporters, most party members seem have dispersed and gone home. Some activists are walking on the streets hanging signs with pictures of Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly President Heng Samrin, along with CPP slogans and a commune candidate list.
IMG 20170520 093206
(Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)
Update: 9:43 A.M.: 

In a speech to supporters, CNRP president Kem Sokha called for “positive change” and repeated the party’s five pronged strategy.

He also said he would eliminate the Ministry of Rural Development, saying the central government had too much power over commune development.
Instead, the government would deliver $500,000 to each commune to spend on infrastructure and development.

He called the proposal a “change from begging for money to having our own money.”

(Ben Paviour/The Cambodia Daily)
Update: 9:05 A.M.: 
IMG 20170520 073619
(Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)
Update: 8:56 A.M.: 
(Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)
Update: 8:48 A.M.: 

As we wait for CNRP president Kem Sokha to arrive and address the over a thousand supporters assembled here, we spoke to senior CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay, who represents Phnom Penh and was upset the rally has been forced to the outskirts of the city.

“Why we have to campaign surrounded by water and grass?” he asked, gesturing to the filled in marshes along Hun Sen Boulevard. “This is the kind of thing that makes the election unfair.”But Mr. Chhay said the party will stay clear of areas where City Hall forbid rallies–less out of respect for the rules than a desire to avoid confrontation. “We don’t say that we’re going to respect it, but we’re going to avoid some  activities that cause problems for them.”

(Ben Paviour/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 8:38 A.M.:

(Ben Paviour/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 8:17 A.M.: 

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(Ben Paviour/The Cambodia Daily)

Update: 8:06 A.M.: 

Thousands of people here on Koh Pich for the CPP’s opening campaign rally. Today’s the first day of the campaign period.

IMG 20170520 073152
(Brendan O’Byrne/The Cambodia Daily)

Update:  7:55 A.M.:

There’s a festive spirit south of central Phnom Penh this morning as several hundred CNRP supporters gather on motorbikes, trucks, and SUVs on the newly-inaugurated Hun Sen Boulevard. From here, the parade will slowly snake north and then west of the city over the course of the day.

Police presence is light, with a handful of traffic police and security guards watching over the gathering. Outfitted in matching white shirts and caps emblazoned with the party logo, supporters say their human resources outstrip their financial ones.
“The CNRP had no money–only heart,” said a 45-year-old supporter who identified himself as Vanna.
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(Ben Paviour/The Cambodia Daily)

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