The CNRP was forced to hold a downsized version of a seminar for incoming elected officials led by party president Kem Sokha at its headquarters in Kompong Chhnang province on Monday after provincial authorities refused to allow a larger gathering.
In the latest complaint by CNRP officials that they are being obstructed by the government and ruling CPP since the June commune elections saw more than 500 communes go to the opposition, the CNRP claim they were wrongly denied permission to host the event at a local hotel.
Duong Chantra, deputy executive committee chief for the party in the province, said he sent a letter to provincial
authorities on Wednesday notifying them of a seminar the CNRP planned to hold training newly-elected officials on commune administrative management.
He received a reply two days later from Kompong Chhnang governor Chhuor Chandoeun advising that the provincial board of governors would not allow the CNRP to hold the event unless it also received permission from the Interior Ministry.
They were forced to move the session to the much smaller CNRP headquarters in Ba’ier commune and reduce the number of attendees from 200 to 100.
According to Mr. Chantra, however, the party was only required to inform local authorities of its intention to hold the meeting and did not
need the go-ahead from the ministry.
“The reason permission from the Interior Ministry is unacceptable is because it is against the law that the Interior Ministry [created] saying that all parties, after being recognized by the Interior Ministry, have a right to assemble and have the right to disseminate [information],” Mr. Chantra said.
Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, could not be reached for comment.
The aim of the meeting, Mr. Chantra said, was for new officials to receive training to enable them to do their jobs more efficiently.
“They are new and just took their positions and do not understand the law,” he said.
“We are strengthening their knowledge of the law in order to benefit and serve the people.”
Mr. Chantra added that the CNRP had eight commune chiefs, eight first deputy commune chiefs, 62 second deputy commune chiefs and 92 councilors across the 70 communes in Kompong Chhnang province.
On Monday, provincial governor Mr. Chandoeun repeated his initial claim, saying the CNRP needed to ask the Interior Ministry for permission to hold events and that all organizations needed to follow the same rule.
Earlier this month, CNRP lawmaker Mao Monyvann said the ruling party, which appoints all provincial governors and controls all provincial authorities, was intentionally making it difficult for opposition officials to conduct commune business in an effort to stymie the CNRP’s chances in next year’s national election.