7 Fringe Parties Fined for Failing To File Reports

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Thurs­day handed down fines of $1,437 each to seven fringe political par­ties, including one that has just merg­­ed with Prince Sisowath Thom­ico’s fledgling Sangkum Cheat Niyum, a court official said.

The fine resulted from the parties’ failure to provide proper re­ports to the Interior Ministry, said pre­siding Judge Ke Sakhorn, add­ing that the parties will still be al­lowed to continue operating.

Lay Voharith, political affairs di­rector for the Ministry of Interior, said the ministry filed a lawsuit against the parties, including the Na­tion­al Salvation Liberation Dem­o­cratic Party, which joined with Prince Thomico.

“If [the parties] continue to not file reports I will stop their party,” Ke Sakhorn warned, adding that the ministry would have to file an additional lawsuit before that happened.

The Light of Freedom Party, the New Cambodia Party, the Neutral and Democratic Cambodia Party, the Liberal Democratic Party for National Salvation, the Free United Party and the Woman and Nation Party were also fined. They have 15 days to pay the fine or appeal.

Lay Voharith said parties have failed to provide annual reports for the last five years, and that the ministry filed its complaint in July 2005.

Ke Sakhorn said he decided to issue a verdict now because he happened to have the time to do so.

But Chan Ven, president of the Na­tion­al Salvation Liberation De­mo­cratic Party, said the fine was designed to block his party’s recent merg­er with Prince Thomico.

“This is the government’s pretext to prevent my party from participating with Prince Thomico’s party,” Chan Ven said. He added that he will pay the fine, and has already dis­banded his party to join Prince Thomico.

The fines came a day after the mun­icipality denied the SCN’s re­quest to hold a public gathering at the traffic island near the Japanese Bridge Friday.

In a Wednesday statement, the mun­icipality wrote that it refused to of­fer permission because the SCN hadn’t registered with the Interior Min­istry as a political party.

Prince Thomico said the ban is un­acceptable. “The government has abused my party’s right. The ban is politically motivated,” he said.


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