Officials Accused of Trying To Stop NRP Rally

The Norodom Ranariddh Party has accused commune officials of illegally trying to put a halt to a party gathering Sunday in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district.

NRP spokesman Muth Chann­tha said his party was looking to hold a 200-person meeting at the home of an NRP member, but it was nearly shut down by Veal Vong commune officials, who said that the party needed to secure permission from City Hall.

“The authority has abused our rights,” Muth Channtha said. “We don’t need to request any permission. The authorities have caused us difficulties everywhere.”

He added that the NRP ignored the order from the commune to stop the meeting, but the presence of commune officials outside the event deterred party members from participating.

Keo Sakal, Veal Vong commune chief, said that her office had told the NRP to halt their gathering un­til they received permission from the municipal authority because City Hall must provide security for political rallies.

“Even though the Political Party Law says that political parties can do their activities freely, we have to provide them security,” Keo Sakal said. She added that when initially informed of the meeting by the NRP, no mention was made that it was a political gathering.

National Election Committee Secretary-General Tep Nytha said by telephone Sunday that the parties are allowed to hold their events freely, but must secure permission from local authorities if they are going to conduct public forums.

Requiring such permission does not constitute an application of political pressure on parties, Tep Nytha said, but added that political parties do not have the right to “act arbitrarily.”

“[Parties] must inform the au­thority to provide them security,” he said. “During the political campaign [period], they do not need to ask permission, but it is not yet the political campaign.”

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