Opposition Drops Campaign Complaint as Signs Removed

The CNRP on Thursday withdrew a complaint it filed with election officials in Tbong Khmum province about signs for the ruling CPP going up ahead of the official start of campaigning for the June 4 commune elections, after being assured the signs were coming down.

Mao Men, a member of the CNRP’s executive committee in Dambe district, filed a complaint with the Toek Chrouv commune election committee on Tuesday after local officials ignored his requests to take down hundreds of new CPP signs bearing the party’s logo and its ballot number for the election. Campaigning is officially not supposed to begin until May 20.

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Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay speaks during a news conference last February at the CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh. (Hannah Hawkins/The Cambodia Daily)

On Thursday, the head of the CNRP’s executive committee for the province, Seng Seangly, said his party withdrew the complaint after the CPP agreed to take the signs down during negotiations mediated by the provincial election committee.

The committee “helped negotiate an end to the issue,” Mr. Seangly said. “If they agree to remove their signs, it’s ok.”

Chhin Chhun, the CPP commune chief of Toek Chrouv, said the signs were already down.

“We respect the compromise,” he said. “I ordered the village security guards to remove them today. They’re all gone.”

However, when contacted on Thursday afternoon following Mr. Chhun’s claim, Mr. Men said some signs were still up, but not as many as before. He said he would check in the evening to see whether the remaining signs had also been removed.

The National Election Committee (NEC), the top government body charged with keeping the campaign fair, has no authority to stop or punish premature campaigning.

“It’s not our jurisdiction,” NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said on Thursday. “The NEC can only appeal to all political parties to stay calm and campaign with dignity.”

Cambodia’s two main independent election watchdogs, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia and the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, both called the lack of jurisdiction a loophole in the country’s election laws.

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