Small Parties Short of Cash as Deadline Looms

Local officials have illegally rejected some candidates for the upcoming national elections and have been generally uncooperative as minor political parties try to participate, according to several minor party officials.

Even more troubling for poorly funded minor political players has been the National Election Com­mittee’s requirement that each party have a war chest of at least $3,750.

“I think the National Election Committee is trying to obstruct the parties that oppose [the government] from participating in the election; NEC has put many difficulties for regulation on the political parties,” said Sun So­kunmealea, secretary-general of the Khmer Front Party.

Sun So­kunmealea added that her party will unlikely be able to raise the money that the NEC has made a requirement and asked that the NEC lower it to 1 million ($252) or 2 million riel ($504).

Even if she did have the money, she might not be able to apply for the elections because commune council officials in her Kandal province refused to issue papers to 20 party candidates, essentially ending their national elections campaign.

“We tried to ask the commune chief many times to offer a recognition letter for us but they re­fused; the commune chief said that they don’t have an order from the district level to do that,” Sun Sokunmealea said.

She aired her complaints Sat­urday while meeting with NEC officials at a routine gathering of political parties meant to instruct them on the NEC application process.

All parties that wish to participate in the July national elections must submit their applications between April 28 and May 17, according to the NEC calendar.

To apply, each party must establish an account at the National Bank of at least $3,750 and get a letter from its commune council proving that the candidates are registered to vote in the upcoming election, according to Ngo Chhay Lieng, deputy NEC chairman.

“The amount of money makes it difficult for my party to participate in the election,” said Moueng Mlubb, a candidate for the minor Khmer Spiritual Aspiration Party. Moreover, he said, commune councilors from the three main political parties “don’t really facilitate” obtaining a recognition letter.

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