The Committee for Free and Fair Elections has accused the National Election Committee of failing to stop the CPP campaigning for April’s commune elections ahead of the designated campaign period and that state-run television has a pro-CPP bias.
Comfrel said the NEC has not issued clear directives about what activities parties are allowed to engage in before the official campaigning period begins March 16. This lack of clarity has caused “local authorities and election officials at all levels to make their own interpretations,” the result being that the CPP is allowed to campaign ahead of schedule, while other parties are being blocked, Comfrel said.
The CPP is also campaigning on state-run television and radio, as well as private media outlets, but the NEC has ignored it or claimed it lacks the authority to stop it, Comfrel said.
The report states that coverage of the CPP “overwhelmingly dominated” TVK’s evening political programs in January, with the ruling party getting 92 percent of political coverage between 5 pm and 11 pm.
Mar Sophal, Comfrel’s chief monitor, said CPP-run ministries are also using state-owned vehicles and ministry buildings to campaign.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said the commune election law cannot stop people campaigning ahead of March 16.
He added that all parties, and not just the CPP, are guilty of campaigning prematurely. Tep Nytha agreed that TVK has devoted too much time to the CPP and Funcinpec, adding that the NEC has asked the network to reduce its coverage of both parties.
TVK Director Kem Gunawath said his channel broadcasts government activities, and denied a CPP bias.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap maintained that every political party campaigns ahead of schedule. He added that Comfrel is confusing government work with the CPP campaign efforts.
“Comfrel stays in Phnom Penh, they don’t know anything,” he said.