Capital Seeks To Limit Party Processions

The Phnom Penh municipal authority is seeking approval to ban campaign processions along major boulevards as well as party rallies at the Independence Monument ahead of the July 27 national election, officials said.

The issue came to the surface Monday at a news conference at the National Election Committee, where political party representatives asked the NEC for intervention on the proposed ban.

Phnom Penh Municipal Gover­nor Kep Chuktema confirmed Tuesday that he had asked the capital’s election committee to consider preventing campaign processions along certain streets, such as Monivong, Norodom and Mao Tse Tung boulevards, as well as around the Independence Monument.

Kep Chuktema said that the re­quest was not politically motivated, but rather an effort to prevent traffic snarls on the city’s already congested boulevards. He added that even though he wants the Independence Monument to be off limits, the city has no problem with parties holding rallies at Wat Phnom.

“It is up to the PEC [Provincial Elec­tion Committee] to decide,” Kep Chuktema said, adding, “If their processions cause traffic jams and people curse [them], it is not a benefit for a party but a loss.”

If parties do want to have processions, he said, they should limit their size and march in such a way as to keep traffic from grinding to a halt.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said at Monday’s news conference that the NEC would consult with Kep Chuktema on the issue. He added that he believes it to be a good idea to keep certain areas of the city off limits to prevent traffic problems.

Under the election law, the state is supposed to grant parties equal access to public stadiums, theaters, parks and halls, but no specific mention is made of campaigning in the streets.

NRP spokesman Muth Chann­tha appealed to the NEC at Mon­day’s conference to persuade City Hall to back down from its ban proposal.

SRP lawmaker Ho Vann said the solution is not to ban such processions, but rather for parties to coordinate them with the NEC so that competing processions do not cross paths.

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