The SRP on Monday called on the Interior Ministry to replace SRP commune councilors who have recently defected to the ruling CPP and accused authorities of deliberately leaving the defectors in place.
In last year’s commune elections, the SRP gained control of 28 communes and won 2,660 commune council seats across the nation, or 23.4 percent of all seats nationwide, making it second only to the CPP, which won 70.4 percent of the 11,353 contested seats.
SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said by telephone Monday the Interior Ministry should replace recent commune-level defectors, including 17 in Svay Rieng, three in Banteay Meanchey, four in Kompong Thom—one of whom is a commune chief—two in Battambang as well as others in Kandal province and Phnom Penh.
All the recent defections to the CPP occurred over a month ago, meaning they are serving without mandates and the ministry should have replaced them by now with other SRP members, Eng Chhay Eang said.
In a letter to Interior Minister Sar Kheng, Eng Chhay Eang claimed the delay in seating new SRP officials was politically motivated.
“The delay has violated the commune election law and is aimed at making political gains,” he wrote. “We ask his excellency to intervene among relevant authorities to work faster and punish those officials who breached the law.”
Sak Setha, director-general of administration at the Interior Ministry, said Monday that the ministry would examine Eng Chhay Eang’s claims when it received them. He confirmed that the commune election law required that commune officials step down if they leave the party from which they were elected.
Sak Setha, however, said he doubted any delays in replacing the commune councils could have been because of politics. He also claimed that the SRP’s complaint was likely linked to electioneering.
“It is because of the elections,” he said. “So far I haven’t seen any report” from the SRP. “We will conduct an investigation into the allegations. Sometimes there are delays because of the administrative procedures.”