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CNRP plans election rallies

Cambodia National Rescue Party supporters ride though the streets of Phnom Penh in June last year during a campaign rally in the lead-up to national election
Cambodia National Rescue Party supporters ride though the streets of Phnom Penh in June last year during a campaign rally in the lead-up to national elections. Vireak Mai

CNRP plans election rallies

After weeks abroad in Europe and the United States, respectively, Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha are returning this week ahead of the council election campaign, which kicks off on Friday.

Though the election is not a universal vote and instead sees sitting commune councillors cast ballots – typically along party lines – for municipal, district and provincial councillors, a two-week campaign will run May 2-16 before the May 18 poll.

Meach Sovannara, director of the information department at the CNRP, said yesterday that Sokha would be arriving today, after a short stop in South Korea, while Rainsy will arrive on Tuesday.

He said the CNRP was planning on holding large election rallies in the streets of Phnom Penh during the two-week campaign period and that political negotiations with the Cambodian People’s Party could not resume until after the campaign.

“We are thinking of the election campaign and demanding an early election. How can we negotiate?” Sovannara said, adding that his party planned to attract huge crowds for a march on May 2.

“Our political message is related to the current political situation,” he said.

Senior CPP official Ork Kim Han, who is in charge of the election campaign, criticised the CNRP’s plan to march
as “illegal”.

“I know that the Cambodian People’s Party will not march. But in case it changes and the supporters march, I cannot stop it. But whatever we do will be according to the Election Law,” he said.

“Election rallies are different from protest marches. At election rallies we propagandise about the political platform of the party. But if we hold demonstrations, it means we demand something. So it
is illegal.”

At a meeting last week hosted by the National Election Committee, political parties were told they were not banned from marching during the campaign, but that their election rallies could not turn into demonstrations, must not insult other candidates and could not permanently occupy public places.

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