CNRP Planning Strategy to Weather Storm Ahead of Election

As the ruling party swings at critical voices and opposition officials, leaders of the CNRP are meeting to focus their attention on a voter registration campaign and assess the rapidly shifting political climate.

Opposition leadership, led by CNRP President Kem Sokha, met on Wednesday afternoon to craft its action plan eleven months out from July’s national election. Attendees also discussed the current political situation and strategies to strengthen outreach.

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A woman rides a bicycle past the CNRP’s headquarters in Phnom Penh in February 2016. (Emil Kastrup/The Cambodia Daily)

Spokesman Yim Sovann said the strategy meeting served as an attempt to respond to the government’s recent clampdown on independent media, NGOs and the opposition, claiming the political climate has grown “really bad.”

The meeting came after Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told a local newspaper on Tuesday that the government would investigate CNRP officials for attempting to start a color revolution.

Last week, the Information Ministry cut at least 19 radio stations that aired radio programs by Voice of Democracy and U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.

“No matter what, the CNRP has prepared a non-violent policy toward the election,” Mr. Sovann said.

“We will do everything to make sure the political climate becomes regular for the 2018 election.”

To start, the CNRP will appeal to the ruling party to reopen the radio stations and lobby it to continue holding fair elections, Mr. Sovann said. The party will also ramp up its social media and door-to-door campaigns as the election draws near.

Mr. Sovann said the party would encourage all eligible citizens to sign up to vote when registration opens on September 1. The party will also work on recruiting election observers and strengthening commune councils in preparation for the July 29 vote.

Despite claims of an Interior Ministry investigation, the spokesman said he was not yet concerned that the CPP would attempt to shut down its main rival.

“Democracy has been narrowed and more difficult, that’s what I see,” Mr. Sovann said. “The people’s difficulties and sorrows are finite. It won’t be like this forever.”

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