NEC to Host Daily Party Panel Discussions on Television, Radio

The National Election Committee will broadcast daily interview panels featuring all political parties that are running in upcoming local elections on state-run television and radio stations during the 14-day election campaign period, spokesman Hang Puthea said on Tuesday.

Mr. Puthea said each of the 12 parties vying for seats in the June 4 commune elections would get 7 minutes and 30 seconds of free airtime per day starting on May 20, when the campaign period begins, on a panel discussion that will cover different topics.

cam photo NEC folo
Hang Puthea, who was named the presumptive ‘neutral’ candidate on the new National Election Committee, sits at a coffee shop in Phnom Penh in 2015. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

As for campaign advertising, all material would need to be approved by the National Election Committee (NEC) to ensure compliance with campaign laws, for example by avoiding personal attacks, he said.

“If they do not go through the NEC, we are not responsible for helping defend them,” he said.

In a statement last week, the NEC said radio and TV station owners are not allowed to sell advertising spots exclusively to any one political party, and street parades are only permitted on the opening and closing days of the campaign period.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the ruling party would not bother buying advertising on private stations, as voters already knew the party’s achievements.

“We do not need to buy airtime because we have already showcased our development, and the people know it very well,” he said.

CNRP officials could not immediately be reached on Tuesday.

Yeng Virak, president of the Grassroots Democracy Party, said he was not sure yet if his party would spend money on advertising.

“What I do know clearly is that we will participate in any programs by the NEC and independent media,” he said.

The NEC’s statement also said the committee could press charges against parties that broadcast material deemed illegal by the state election body.

“In the case that the NEC finds that the essence of the campaign violates the rules and procedures for the 2017 commune elections, the NEC is entitled to ask that political party to make corrections, and if it refuses to make corrections, the NEC has the right to deprive…stations from broadcasting its whole campaign and will take legal action,” it said.

Earlier this month, the opposition CNRP abandoned its newly released campaign slogan—“Change commune chiefs who serve the party and replace them with commune chiefs who serve the people”—after the ruling CPP claimed it was offensive and illegal.

(Additional reporting by Hannah Hawkins)

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