Complaints about strongly worded speeches by Sam Rainsy have prompted the National Election Committee to draft a warning to all political parties, officials said.
The warning, which is to be issued next week, will remind parties they are not to begin campaigning until the official June 26 start of the political campaign. It will also remind them of provisions in the electoral law banning “contemptuous remarks,” officials said.
The NEC is investigating complaints from CPP officials in Kratie province about opposition politician Sam Rainsy’s activities, said Uk Sokun, chief of the legal section of the NEC.
The CPP officials included in their protest to the NEC two tapes of Sam Rainsy speeches, complaining that he called certain government leaders “yuon puppets.”
In a speech Tuesday in Kompong Cham, Sam Rainsy called the CPP the “Vietnamese puppet party.” He also used strong language to explain why he thought Second Prime Minister Hun Sen had switched his constituency from Kompong Cham, his home province, to Kandal.
“Hun Sen packed his bags and abandoned you all because the Cambodian people hate him like feces,” Sam Rainsy said.
Article 76 of the electoral law states that “political parties and candidates shall refrain from using violence, abuse, or contemptuous remarks, causing fear, confusion and loss of confidence in the secrecy of the ballot.”
The law states that anyone who violates article 76 shall be fined the equivalent of $1,250 to $2,500 and can have their name deleted from the list of voters. Since a candidate for the National Assembly must be a registered voter, such a penalty likely would disqualify a politician from the July 26 election.
However, officials in the legal department said Thursday that there were no immediate plans to take action against Sam Rainsy based on the complaint.
NEC Information Officer Leng Sochea said Thursday the electoral body would rather issue a reminder to all parties rather than take the potentially controversial step of censuring Sam Rainsy.
“If we take action against Sam Rainsy…they will say it is biased and we are trying to kill off the opposition parties,” he said.
Sam Rainsy said this week that the “feces” remark was a common Khmer idiom and did not amount to his comparing the second premier to excrement.
His office stressed he was not campaigning, but organizing the party and opening offices.