Twenty-four officials from the Interior Ministry’s fire department have been ordered to join the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s local working groups operating in Battambang province.
O’Taki commune chief Pong Nath said the local CPP group helped his commune by donating money to villages, including $50 for pregnant women, and visited two to three times each month.
The officials’ assignments – which the head of a government watchdog said blurred the lines between government work and political campaigning – cover eight villages within O’Taki commune in Tham Koul district, according to a document obtained yesterday.
The CPP working group apparatus covers Cambodia’s provinces down to the local level, with officials tasked to engage in outreach activities in their respective areas.
Koul Panha, executive director of election monitor Comfrel, criticised the blurring of government and party obligations.
“It’s systematic use of state resources for the party. In the law on political parties, especially the three state institutions – court, military and police – they should not work as a branch or part of the party,” Panha said.
“It blurs the lines, affects the playing field of the political competition.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one official, from the Prey Veng working group, said members were compelled to spend money on villagers as part of the efforts.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said all CPP members had to connect with local people, but denied they were forced to donate money.
“It is completely separate between party work and their official work,” he said.