CPP Pushes to Halve National Election Campaign Periods

Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin said Monday that the official campaign period for national elections must be reduced from 30 to 14 days, with street parades allowed only on the opening and closing days, in order to reduce traffic congestion.

Mr. Chhin has been leading the ruling CPP in talks with the opposition CNRP’s delegation, led by Kuoy Bunroeun, to amend Cambodia’s national election law to complement the law they negotiated late last year to establish the new bipartisan National Election Committee (NEC).

“We want the marching to be done on the opening and closing day because the CPP wants to reduce social challenges,” he told reporters after Monday’s meeting. “Like we are in Phnom Penh, for example, and it could affect traffic congestion if there is marching every day.”

Presently, political parties are allowed to take to the streets every day of the official campaign period. Mr. Chhin said this could make it difficult for citizens to arrive at home in time each night to eat their dinner.

“On the other issues about the 14-day campaign, we want to reduce the challenges as well, because some countries do not extend their campaigns,” Mr. Chhin said.

Mr. Chhin pointed to Japan’s recent 12-day campaign, which came after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called a snap election, and to a nine-day campaign in Singapore.

The CNRP’s Mr. Bunroeun said the opposition could not accept campaign periods of less than 30 days. A 30-day campaign has been held before every election since the 1993 U.N.-run ballot. He also said there should not be restrictions placed on the timing of marches.

“The CNRP wants to keep the same period of marching and election campaigning because our directive is that we don’t want to see a limitation on freedom of expression,” Mr. Bunroeun said after Monday’s meeting

Nevertheless, both Mr. Chhin and Mr. Bunroeun said the two parties had agreed on 14 of the 24 articles on election campaigning, and would pass the other articles to party leaders to decide.

Mr. Bunroeun said last year that the two parties aim to finish drafting the new election law by February, and will then send it, along with their draft of the NEC law, to the National Assembly to be voted on.

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