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NEC warns against use of war rhetoric

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NEC spokesman Hang Puthea speaks to the press in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

NEC warns against use of war rhetoric

Talking up the risk of war during the coming election campaign can be expected to bring legal action from the National Election Committee (NEC), the body’s spokesman said yesterday, a day after the premier warned he feared conflict would ensue if his ruling Cambodian People’s Party lost the election.

NEC member and spokesman Hang Puthea said the body stood ready to enforce the Election Law come May 20, the official beginning of the campaign period for the June 4 commune elections.

As part of this, any politician who mentions the threat of war would likely fall foul of Article 71, which says political parties and candidates shall not use threats, intimidation or violence.

“For politicians, their rhetoric will be considered by the NEC,” Puthea said. “It does not refer only to [politicians] speaking about war but also problems which might arise because of insults, for example.”

Hun Sen on Wednesday told a gathering of military veterans and officers that the country would descend into war if the CPP lost power, a theme long present in his speeches.

The premier also threatened a military crackdown against any protests during the election.The NEC was made bipartisan in 2015. Reached yesterday, representatives of both parties said they supported its role in policing extreme rhetoric.

“We welcome the principles of the NEC. It is up to them to decide if any party or individual has committed an offence,” CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said.

Yim Sovann, a CNRP spokesman, commended the NEC for taking what he said was a brave stance.

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