The CPP is refusing to participate in an upcoming commune election candidate roundtable discussion organized by labor groups in Phnom Penh, calling the meeting “illegal” and “biased,” a CPP official said Thursday.
Although the CPP has no authority to stop the political meeting scheduled for Sunday in Toek Thlar commune, CPP Deputy Cabinet Chief Sam Suon said meetings set up by NGOs or labor organizations are not neutral.
“No CPP candidates will join this meeting because the election law stipulates that local associations or NGOs should be independent, and must be neutral in any political campaign,” Som Suon said. “This is the kind of electoral campaign program in which NGOs are not allowed to organize.”
The Cambodian Labor Organization, which organized the candidate meeting along with the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, wanted to create an open forum in which commune candidates from all political parties could offer their solutions to labor issues, CLO legal adviser An Nan said. Toek Thlar commune candidates from Funcinpec, the Sam Rainsy Party and the Khmer Democratic Party have agreed to attend the forum.
“The meeting is illegal because the people at the meeting will be politically biased and because they invited members from four political parties when there are only three parties [Funcinpec, the Sam Rainsy Party and CPP] running in Teok Thlar commune,” Som Suon said.
The meeting is also illegal because the CLO invited commune candidates from Phnom Penh Thmei commune and Svay Pak commune to attend, which violates a commune election law which states that candidates can only campaign in the commune which they are running, Som Suon said.
“I don’t know why the CPP will not join the meeting because we want to hear what they say; we will not grill them or insult them,” An Nan said, adding that precautions such as prohibiting clapping from the audience are being taken to keep the forum neutral.
Local police in Toek Thlar commune, who have the authority to stop the roundtable discussion from being held, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
“We will still keep the door open for the CPP if, at the last minute, they want to join,” An Nan said.
Meanwhile, the NEC has returned a videotape of a commune election debate to the Khmer Institute for Democracy, saying the institute does not need NEC permission to broadcast it on a privately-run TV station.
But TV9 still wants written permission from the NEC before they will broadcast the debate.