Lawmakers Told ‘No Insults’ During Campaign

The National Election Com­mittee (NEC) issued a directive on Saturday telling political parties to stick strictly to policy talk during the two-week campaign period for the May 18 provincial, municipal and district council elections. 

Earlier this month, opposition leader Sam Rainsy announced that the CNRP would use the campaign period to restart mass demonstrations that have been summarily banned by the government since early January.

The NEC directive orders parties not to use the council campaign period to insult other politicians or political parties, mention past crimes or violent acts, use immoral or inciting language, discriminate in any way or sow fear that could “spoil social order.”

“Political parties, candidates or supporters of political parties shall not make activities during the electoral campaign that become demonstrations,” the statement says.

“Political parties, candidates or representatives of political parties shall not…use language or speak to insult directly, scorn or look down on any political parties, candidates or representatives of political parties,” the statement continues.

Politicians must also refrain from “raising verbally or in writing the shocking events of the past such as murders, beatings, violations or destruction of property of anyone or any group,” the directive states.

The NEC says that any politicians or supporters who violate the directive will “be responsible before the law.”

Tep Nytha, secretary-general of the NEC, said that any attempt by the CNRP to demonstrate during the campaign period would be a clear violation of the directive. Mr. Nytha declined to explain how the directive would be enforced.

Mu Sochua, a senior CNRP lawmaker-elect, said that the CNRP would go ahead with a planned May 2 march despite the NEC directive, which she said violates the constitutional rights to assembly and expression.

Cheam Yeap, a ruling party lawmaker and spokesman, said that the CPP would honor the directive from the NEC, which has been widely criticized for being stacked with members of the ruling party.

“The CPP will hand out its policy platform to the voters to vote for the CPP and will not criticize others,” Mr. Yeap said.

In late December and early January, tens of thousands of CNRP supporters held daily protest marches demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Hun Sen and a new election.

The demonstrations ended after security guards violently cleared opposition supporters from Freedom Park on January 4. Hours later, the Interior Ministry imposed a ban on public gatherings, which has since been arbitrarily enforced.

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