Opposition Councilors Bemoan Ministry Directive

A number of provincial and district councilors aligned with the opposition have not been paid in the past two months following a Ministry of Interior directive in March calling for their salaries to be halted and positions revoked, according to the secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP).

Hang Sokhour, who is also an SRP senator, said that some of the SRP’s 576 district and provincial councilors have seen their salaries stripped in Siem Reap, Takeo, Kandal, Battambang, Kompong Speu, Svay Rieng, Kompong Cham and Preah Vihear provinces.

“We requested that the Ministry [of Interior] review the case, but the ministry never responded,” Mr. Sokhour said.

Kong Korm, president of the SRP, wrote a letter to Interior Minister Sar Kheng last month rebuking a March 20 letter in which Mr. Kheng instructs local officials to stop paying councilors who have joined the opposition CNRP for the current council elections, because they won their positions as members of the SRP.

Mr. Kheng’s directive cites articles 15 and 16 of the law on political parties, which says that politicians can only be part of one party at a time.

Mr. Korm argues that article 120 of the election law gives politicians a six-month grace period for instances in which they change their allegiance before an election.

But a number of SRP councilors have seen their salaries stopped, and positions taken away ahead of the May 18 district, city and provincial council elections.

Tav Horn, 48, an SRP councilor in Kompong Chhnang province’s Samakki Meanchey district, said he hasn’t received his 500,000 riel ($125) monthly salary since the end of February.

“I resigned from the SRP to stand as a candidate with the CNRP,” Mr. Horn said. “I demanded to have my salary paid, but [the district council president] wouldn’t offer it to me.”

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