Election Board Announces Campaigning Rules

The National Election Commit­tee presented Tuesday the rules for campaigning in the upcoming national election during a meeting with political parties, election NGOs and the media.

Campaigning can take place from May 26 to July 25, said NEC member Em Sophat, who, as chair of the meeting, went through the NEC’s most current election rules.

Individuals cannot be criticized on the campaign trail, the NEC rules dictate. They also ban the use of government facilities, police, military uniforms or weapons. Threats, intimidation and vote-buying are also prohibited.

Campaigning must cease July 26, according to the NEC, and promotional materials must be torn down within 15 days of the election.

“Media and NGOs must be neutral and not involved with political party campaigns…. But I urge you to help with election education,” Em Sophat said, adding that election materials prepared by NGOs must be reviewed by the NEC.

The NEC is monitoring airtime equity, Em Sophat said, while instructing private radio and TV stations to sell equal airtime to all parties at affordable prices.

There is one main difference in the rules from past elections.

“Campaign-related disputes will be finally decided by the Con­stitutional Council, unlike in the past, when it was ultimately decided by the NEC,” Em Sophat said.

Party representatives used the meeting Tuesday to air concerns about the campaign so far.

Local authorities have been blocking some signs from being set up in public places, some party members told the NEC, asserting that CPP-af­filiated commune and village chiefs discriminate when it comes to distributing voter information cards to members of other parties. They also claimed the CPP dominates TV airtime, asking the NEC to intervene.

The NEC’s secretary-general, Tep Nytha, downplayed concerns.

“There were clashes but they were reduced remarkably since 1998,” he said, referring to when the NEC first organized the election. He said greater election time stability was also because of increased awar­eness of campaign rules among parties, local officials and the public.

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