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CNRP lawmaker Long Botta photographed at his home in 2013. Botta has said his party is preparing a complaint against a commune clerk for obstructing the work of a new CNRP commune chief. Kara Fox
CNRP lawmaker Long Botta photographed at his home in 2013. Botta has said his party is preparing a complaint against a commune clerk for obstructing the work of a new CNRP commune chief. Kara Fox

CNRP faces pressure in communes

Its leadership staggered by the arrest of its president, Kem Sokha, the Cambodia National Rescue Party is also facing increasing pressure on its local officials, according to a CNRP lawmaker, who yesterday flagged plans to lodge a legal complaint against a Battambang commune clerk for “undermining” an elected opposition commune chief.

Lawmaker for Battambang Long Botta said the party would take legal action against the commune clerk in the province’s Koh Chivaing commune, which was one of almost 500 constituencies won by the CNRP in June’s local elections.

The clerk, he alleged, had falsified documents and refused to hand over the official stamp to endorse decisions made by the new chief, Krem Yann.

“The situation is completely blocked,” said Botta, complaining that the autonomy of elected local representatives was being dashed by Interior Ministry-appointed officials.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak was unreachable yesterday, but in the weeks after the June election, Interior Minister Sar Kheng used the inauguration of a new Phnom Penh governor to call on authorities to keep CNRP commune chiefs in check and closely vet their decisions. This followed the leak of a letter, purportedly from a CPP official in Kandal, requesting funding cuts to communes won by the CNRP “to make the people who voted for the opposition experience difficulties”.

Botta yesterday said opposition commune chiefs were facing resistance from the largely pro-CPP bureaucracy across Battambang, where another CNRP chief, Sin Rozeth, recently drew the ire of superiors for plans to build a drainage system that enjoyed the wide support of her constituents.

Such friction has also surfaced across the country in recent months with CNRP chiefs in Kratie and Kandal facing accusations of wrongdoing from superiors.

In another case which emerged yesterday, Khun Chanty, an opposition chief in Banteay Meanchey’s Psar Kandal commune, in Poipet district, said district authorities had refused to sign off on her suggested changes to the commune’s internal rules.

“As we’re from two different parties, they act like they are the stepparent and we are the stepchildren; it doesn’t go smoothly,” Chanty said. “In the communes we won, it’s getting more difficult.”

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