The National Election Committee has ordered the Center for Social Development to remove from its upcoming voter’s guide a reference to Cambodia being under “foreign occupation” in a political party program to appear in the publication.
In a statement issued Tuesday, NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha wrote that the phrase “liberate the nation to have independence from foreign occupation first” must be removed from a paragraph on illegal immigration in the Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party’s political platform.
Otherwise, the NEC will prevent the CSD from publishing the voters’ guide.
The CSD must take the wording out as this goes against the constitutional assertion that Cambodia is an independent country, Tep Nytha said Thursday in an interview.
The NEC has the right to oversee the production of any publication related to electoral issues, he said. “The phrase’s content is against the constitution,” he added.
The CSD plans to release in the next few weeks a free voters’ guide, which will contain the platforms of all 12 political parties running in April’s commune elections, said Theary Seng, CSD executive director.
In a statement to the CSD on Wednesday, SJFP Secretary-General Suth Dina wrote that the party will not withdraw the phrase.
The party would rather remove its information entirely from the voter’s guide, leaving only the party’s logo and a photo of SJFP President Prince Sisowath Thomico, he wrote.
The party “can not withdraw the phrase…which is a vital platform to solve illegal immigration,” Suth Dina wrote.
Prince Thomico said that the NEC has no authority to ask his party to withdraw the phrase.
“It is not the NEC’s job to verify the constitution,” he said, adding that the NEC is trying to prevent his party’s platform from being published because the election body is biased towards the ruling party.
Tep Nytha said that the NEC had no problem with the SJFP platform being published so long as the edit is made.
Theary Seng said that the CSD has not decided yet how to handle the requests from the NEC and the SJFP.
In principle, the CSD does not want to alter the material that political parties submit for publication, she added.