A criminal complaint has been filed against SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua with the National Election Council, accusing her of violating public order and election laws after she handed out information on how to vote in the upcoming commune elections this week, officials said yesterday.
Commune police said that they would soon be sending the complaint to court.
On Monday, security forces attempted to stop Mu Sochua and Sam Rainsy Party members from handing out voter registration information in Meanchey district’s Kbal Koh commune and accused Ms Sochua of flouting election laws during a drive to register elderly women voters at a pagoda.
Kbal Koh commune chief Hor Vengnai said that he had filed an official complaint with the National Election Council, accusing Ms Sochua of violating public order laws by “using a microphone to campaign in public without permission and interfering with local authorities.”
“I sent a complaint that said Ms Sochua had violated NEC [rules] and public law,” said Mr Vengnai.
He added that Ms Sochua had handed out leaflets around the commune and said her activities constituted campaigning “because she is a lawmaker.”
By law, political parties are not allowed to actively campaign for the June 3 commune elections until one month before polling starts.
Kbal Koh commune police chief Mao Rith also said that Ms Sochua had “interfered with the local authority” by handing out information on how to register, and that she had violated public order laws.
“She used a microphone at a pagoda to make announcements to the public,” said Mr Rith, adding that police and the commune would file a complaint against Ms Sochua with the court.
Reacting to news of the complaint, Ms Sochua said she was “determined to face any law” that she may have broken.
“I welcome a challenge,” she added. “There is nothing clearer than the fact that the NEC is totally incompetent and lacks all forms of independence.”
She said that she would continue bringing information to the people on how to vote and that complaints against her would not deter her in any way.
NEC secretary general Tep Nytha said that he had seen the complaint from Mr Vengnai, but it could not be acted upon by the NEC and should be sent to court instead.
The National Democratic Institute, a US-backed group who are working to monitor and ensure good practice in the elections, called on the NEC on Tuesday to clarify its position on dissemination of voter registration information, having received complaints from opposition party members that they were being obstructed from doing so.
The NEC yesterday issued a statement in an attempt to clarify its position on political parties disseminating information regarding voter registration, saying it was not in its remit to get involved at this particular time.
The statement said that activities of political parties outside of designated campaigning time were under the jurisdiction of local authorities and the Interior Ministry.
“For political parties to hand out leaflets, hold a meeting or display its logo in public, they must seek permission from the relevant local authorities three days before,” the statement said.
Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said he had no information on the matter and declined to comment further.
Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said that he would first like to study the complaint against Ms Sochua before commenting.
But he said that “everybody has the authority to share information and educate voters. The NEC have no regulations about this in their remit.”