The election committee of Tbong Khmum province is investigating a complaint that the ruling CPP violated electioneering rules by posting party signs on homes before the official campaign period kicks off for the June 4 commune elections.
Mao Men, a member of the opposition’s executive committee in Dambe district, said about 1,000 signs bearing the CPP logo and its ballot number had been posted outside local homes since April 10. He filed a complaint with the Toek Chrouv commune election committee on Tuesday.
The National Election Committee (NEC) “announced that the election campaign will start on May 20 and that political parties have only 14 days to campaign, but the CPP is doing it now,” he said. “I think it is improper and unfair competition.”
Mr. Men said the signs went up in six of the 10 villages across Toek Chrouv commune. He planned to take the complaint all the way to the NEC if they were not removed soon, he said.
“We did inform local authorities to take action, but instead even more signs have gone up,” he said.
Commune councilor Sam Srin, a member of the CPP, conceded the infraction, but claimed the CNRP was exaggerating the extent of the breach and insisted it was unintentional.
“There were only a few places, not so many,” he said, adding the people who put the signs up “did not know the law clearly.”
Mr. Srin said he ordered village security guards to start removing the signs as soon as the complaint was filed.
“They are removing them right now,” he said.
Even so, Sok Chhin, director of the provincial election committee, said he had already sent his staff to investigate.
Posting party signs with ballot numbers before the start of the official campaign period was against the rules, he said. But he declined to say if any punitive measures would be taken against any perpetrators.
“Please wait and see,” he said. “I dare not say right now because I have only heard from one side.”
Sam Kuntheamy, director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, an NGO, said the NEC had legal authority over campaign violations only during the campaign period, something he considered a problem with the rules.
Outside the campaign period, “it’s not the NEC’s jurisdiction. It has no power because the law does not talk about it,” Mr. Kuntheamy said. “It is a loophole.”