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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CPP first to be approved

CPP first to be approved

The National Election Committee (NEC) has said the ruling Cambodian People's Party

(CPP) was the first to be approved for the upcoming election. However three smaller

parties failed to fill in their registration forms correctly and will have to re-apply.

NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha told the Post on May 8 that the CPP had filed its

application on April 28, the day party registration began. The process ends May 17.

A CPP Cabinet official, who declined to be named, said the party had selected 123

party members as full candidates with another 142 in reserve.

"Our party respects the sovereignty of other parties and we work based on the

law and democracy," he said. "We are not using a war of words against other

parties."

That was not the opinion of the leaders of two smaller parties, who said CPP commune

chiefs had tried to withhold approval of their proposed candidates to ensure they

missed the deadline.

Article 37 of the Election Law states that each party must present enough candidates

to fill at least one-third of the National Assembly's 123 seats. The reserve list

must contain the same number of names. People wishing to stand as candidates must

be confirmed by the commune chief of the commune in which they registered as voters.

Hang Dara, the president of the Hang Dara Democracy Movement, said his attempt to

register had been delayed after local officials refused to register some of his proposed

candidates. He needs the approval of twelve more candidates before his party will

have the 248 he wants to run.

"We are still lacking the commune chiefs' approval for these candidates. That

is required by law before we can submit our form," Dara said on May 8. "This

is a CPP strategy to prevent other parties from participating."

The deputy president of the second party, Sun Sokunmealea of the Khmer Front Party

(KFP), said she had run into the same difficulty.

"We were told the [commune chiefs] had no instructions from the Ministry of

Interior (MoI)," she said. "Some said they were afraid to approve the candidates,

while others were looking for a bribe."

The NEC's Nytha accepted that some commune chiefs had withheld approval of candidates,

but said the electoral body wrote to the MoI before registration began to instruct

commune chiefs to help every party's candidates.

But he said that was not the situation with the KFP's allegation. He said the NEC

investigated the case and found it had no basis in fact.

"We take immediate measures when there are complaints. We ordered the MoI and

the Provincial Election Committees (PEC) to cooperate with commune authorities to

facilitate the parties' efforts," Nytha said. "In some instances we phoned

commune authorities to help resolve complaints from individual parties."

And it is true that not every party has encountered problems. Prince Norodom Chakrapong,

the president of Chakrapong Khmer Spirit Party, said his party had no complaints

with the commune chiefs, who had respected their obligations.

The NEC said it expected around 20 parties would register for the July 27 general

election. One that might not is the late Loy Sim Chheang's Sangkum Thmei Party.

Sim Chheang, who broke away from Funcinpec in the late 1990s, died of a heart attack

in early April. The party's deputy secretary-general, Ang Bun Tha, said the party

wanted to participate, but without a leader might have to re-assess the situation.

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