A commune election committee in Prey Veng province Wednesday rejected an SRP complaint against a CPP lawmaker candidate who was accused of gift-giving, officials said.
Men Monyratana, a Prey Veng SRP lawmaker and election candidate, filed the complaint Monday with Ba Phnom district’s Rong Damrei Commune Election Committee against Interior Ministry Secretary of State Prum Sokha, who is also a Prey Veng lawmaker candidate for the CPP.
Men Monyratana had accused Prum Sokha of handing out money and sarongs bearing the CPP logo during a school groundbreaking ceremony Monday.
Gift-giving is illegal according to election law, and if found guilty, candidates can be fined between $1,250 and $6,250.
The Ron Damrei Commune Election Committee held the hearing Wednesday morning, which included testimony from six witnesses who said they received sarongs and money from Prum Sokha, Men Monyratana said. Witnesses told the committee director and deputy director that CPP campaigners handed out 20,000 riel to adults and 5,000 riel to children, she added.
The CEC’s president, Ouk Sophat, said he attempted to settle the dispute through negotiation.
“Both sides refused to resolve,” he said, adding that he has now forwarded the complaint to the provincial election committee.
Men Monyratana said she felt the CEC was biased.
“The CEC claimed it was not gift giving,” she said. “The CEC is showing that it is very biased toward the CPP and they are affiliated with the CPP,” she said.
Prum Sokha defended his actions, acknowledging that the 100 people who came to the ceremony received CPP logo hats and T-shirts, and that only monks and clergy-members received 20,000 riel each.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said he knew about the case, and noted that the distribution of hats and T-shirts with party logos is legal because they are considered election campaign materials.
“But money is not acceptable—it is against the law,” he said, adding that he was unaware of any money being given at the ceremony.