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Campaign funds discussed

AT least 50 representatives of five political parties met with the election monitoring group Comfrel on Wednesday to discuss the creation of a law that would regulate campaign funding.

Comfrel executive director Koul Panha said that a majority of participants at the meeting supported the proposed law, a draft of which he said would be written by Comfrel in time for elections scheduled for 2012 and 2013.

“We would try to establish a law to make campaign funding transparent, and that would control the revenue and spending of each political party,” he said, and added that a final decision on whether a new law will be drafted has not been made.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party, the Sam Rainsy Party, the Human Rights Party, Funcinpec and the Nationalist Party were all represented at Wednesday’s meeting.

Koul Panha said the draft law would call on the government to provide equal campaign budgets for all political parties, and that this would help reduce the funding gap between the CPP and opposition parties.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said a law regulating campaign spending should be drafted as soon as possible.

“If [we] have that law, it can control the expenses for the election campaigns of political parties during the election, and it could reduce the influence of the ruling party, which has a big campaign budget because it gets a lot of income from private companies,” he said.

HRP President Kem Sokha also said he supported the creation of a new law, and that it could improve transparency and reduce the campaign budget of the CPP.

“I support a law that will give equal budget and equal media access during the election campaigns, and I think that the elections have not been free and fair when there was a lack of control of campaign finances, especially of the ruling party,” he said.

Sokolac Tipor, deputy secretary general of the National Election Committee, said it would be difficult to draft a meaningful law, given that campaigning in one form or another seems to be going on constantly.

“It is difficult to give the definition of a campaign, because individual politicians are going down to their constituencies almost every day to donate to their supporters,” he said.

“That could be said to be part of a political campaign, or it could not,” Sokolac Tipor added.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

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