A sitting Sam Rainsy Party commune chief and council members from four communes in Ratanakkiri yesterday decried their omission from the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s list of candidates for the upcoming June ballot.
About 88,000 candidates were put forward to the National Election Committee during the March 3-5 registration window, with 12 parties in the running. While the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) and Human Rights Party contested separately in 2012, they will take on the ruling party under their now-unified CNRP banner in June.
Rmam Yout, SRP commune chief from O’Yadav district’s Pate commune, yesterday said he was forced to sign off on the CNRP’s candidate list for the commune, comprising 10 names that will contest for chief, deputy chief and commune council positions. On seeing his name was not among them, Yout said he was assured his name would be added later, something he said never happened.
“If I was wrong [in my work] and the villagers did not like me, it would be fine to remove me. But now even the villagers are complaining,” he said.
The CNRP is expected to face a stiff challenge in the commune from ex-Adhoc staffer and Cambodian People’s Party candidate Chhay Thy, who will attempt to leverage his long-standing support among the local ethnic community to wrest the seat from the opposition.
Yout said Som Chan Thok, a Phnom Penh opposition official; Nhem Sophat, executive secretary for the province; and Khat Socheat, a deputy in charge of the province’s working group, were in charge of making the candidate lists for the province, adding that Chan Thok had threatened him.
“He said the deadline was closed, and if I didn’t sign off the list, he would fine me 20 million riel [about $5,000],” Yout said. “But my name was not there, so he cheated me.”
He added that council members from three other communes Bakham, Yatung and Paknhai – were also deleted from this year’s lists, with second deputy commune chief for Bakham Ke Kim Than saying the party had fielded completely new candidates from the area.
“I have struggled for the party for a long time and have not betrayed the party,” Kim Than said. “Now, they kick me out, I have no idea why.”
Rann Sayloeun, executive director for the CNRP in Ratanakirri, said Socheat and Sophat did not even consult him while finalising the candidates for O’Yadav district, adding that it seemed like senior party officials trusted the duo to take a final call.
Reached yesterday, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the national leadership was not involved and local leaders were in charge of the selection process, adding that it was common for candidates to be changed and that “no one can hold positions for their whole life”.