Party Campaigns Take to the Provinces to Spread Messages

After launching their campaigns with large rallies in Phnom Penh on Thursday, the ruling CPP and opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) took to the provinces over the weekend to spread their message to voters in some of the country’s most populated constituencies.

Opposition leader Kem Sokha led rallies in Prey Veng, Siem Reap and Kompong Cham province, where he is running as a candidate in the July 28 national election. Outside of Phnom Penh, where the CNRP won 5 of 12 seats in the 2008 election, the SRP and Human Rights Party (HRP), which merged last July to form the CNRP, won only 24 out of 111 National Assembly seats.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Sunday that each provincial rally had drawn thousands of supporters, with the biggest crowd turning out in Kompong Cham.

“We focus on the provinces with more than 3 seats [in Parliament],” Mr. Sovann said. “We focus our resources on 15 [provinces] because our resources are limited and we have to focus on where we expect to win—we expect to gain seats in these 15 provinces.”

Mu Sochua, the CNRP’s top candidate in Battambang, said thousands of supporters turned out for a rally in her constituency on Friday.

Top government ministers also hit the campaign trail over the weekend, rallying support for the ruling CPP in their respective constituencies.

CPP lawmaker Seang Nam said that he and Defense Minister General Tea Banh led a rally in Siem Reap province attended by more than 10,000 CPP faithful. Minister of Land Management In Chhun Lim turned out for a gathering of thousands of supporters in Kratie province, while Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh led a CPP campaign rally in Kep province.

Both the CPP and CNRP also continued campaigning in Phnom Penh over the weekend, with small convoys of trucks trolling the city with banners, flags, stickers and video screens broadcasting each party’s message.

Since the CPP showed its largesse with a grandiose event, overseen by Prime Minister Hun Sen, at Koh Pich to begin the official campaign period on Thurs­day, it has taken over numerous billboards and prime advertising space in the city. Dozens of signs along the Japanese Friendship Bridge—normally paid advertisements for the Vietnamese military-owned telecom firm Metfone—are now covered with campaign posters for the CPP.

And despite complaints of disruptions at CNRP party rallies and destruction of CNRP signs in the lead up to the official campaign period, National Election Committee (NEC) Secretary-General Tep Nytha said that there have been few reports of abuse or intimidation in the first few days of campaigning.

He said the NEC had received about nine complaints from both the CPP and CNRP that the other party had interfered with their attempts to broadcast their campaign platform by playing music to drown out their message.

“We are in the process of solving six complaints and three have already been solved,” he said.

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