Prime Minister Warns Party Leaders Not To Criticize Ballot Order

The National Election Com­mittee has released the order political parties will appear on the ballot for the July 27 national election, prompting Prime Minister Hun Sen to warn party leaders not to criticize the order.

The ballot order was determined during a ceremony Friday by having Buddhist monk su­preme patriarchs Bou Kry of the Dhammayut sect and Non Nget of the Mohanikaya sect choose the names of the 11 competing parties at random, according to an NEC statement issued Friday.

Of the larger parties, the Norodom Ranariddh Party will appear first on the ballot. The CPP will be fourth; Funcinpec will be eighth; SRP will be ninth; and the Hu­man Rights Party will be 11th.

Speaking at a school inauguration in Kandal province Saturday, Hun Sen warned against complaining about the ballot order, in response to a radio program that used the numbering in an attack against certain parties.

The radio show, which the premier did not name, claimed that the number four represented those who brought the Viet­na­mese into the country, Hun Sen said.

The announcer also said Fun­cinpec’s number eight slot is bad luck because it is the symbol of handcuffs; that the SRP’s number nine represents gamblers; and that the HRP’s number 11 represents the teeth of a mouse that is good at destroying crops.

“If we don’t prevent [such theories], it would create violent activities or at least would be a verbal war, and that would not be allow­ed to happen in Cambodia,” Hun Sen said.

NRP spokesman Muth Chann­tha, who acknowledged that his party’s “Royalist Voice” program broadcast comments about the ballot arrangement Friday, distanced the NRP from the comments made.

“A reporter made an editorial report; it is the reporter’s right. It is not our stance,” he said.

“The NRP wished to have the first rank, [because] it is easier for the voters. They don’t have to search,” Muth Channtha said. “We don’t say other political parties are bad. It is useless—the votes are what are important.”

In the past, there have been theories about the role of ballot placement, such as when the small Rice Party came out strong in the 2003 election.

At the time, Koul Panha, director of the committee for Free and Fair Elections, speculated that the Rice Party benefited from its slot next to the CPP.

Hun Sen dismissed the importance of placement Saturday by pointing out that the CPP won the 2003 election despite the ruling party’s place as number 17 out of 23 on the ballot.

“It does not define the party’s fate,” he said.

However, he reflected on the CPP’s number four slot on the ballot, noting that this is the first time the CPP has gotten an even number.

“This is a good number for the CPP,” Hun Sen said. “The four number is perfect.”

SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang agreed that ballot placement is inconsequential compared to other factors that could sway voters.

“The important thing is the dissemination of the party’s platform to the voters. When they believe, the voters will vote for us,” Eng Chhay Eang said.

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha said that the party’s listing at number 11 is fortunate.

“It is a good number,” he said. “As the last number, the voters would find it easier to tick. We are lucky. It is easier to remember.”

Now that the ballot order has been determined, the NEC will print the estimated 10 million ballots that will be needed for the July election, said NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha. Printing costs will total more than $1 million, he said.

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