As of the final day of the registration period 82,786 candidates including 25,963 women had registered for the June 5 commune council elections, according to the National Election Committee (NEC).

NEC announced on March 7 that it had received candidacy applications from 17 political parties – the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), Candlelight Party, FUNCINPEC, Khmer National United Party (KNUP), Cambodian Nation Love Party (CNLP), Cambodian Nationality Party, Cambodian Youth Party (CYP), Khmer Will Party, Cambodia Reform Party, Kampucheaniyum Party (KP), Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP), Beehive Social Democratic Party (BSDP), Indigenous People’s Democratic Party (IPDP), Khmer United Party (KUP), Reaksmey Khemara Party, and Khmer Economic Development Party (KEDP).

The press release said the registration period was March 4-6.

NEC spokesman Som Sorida told The Post on March 6 that the CPP had fielded candidates in all 1,652 communes across the country. The Candlelight Party had registered candidates in 1,632 communes while FUNCINPEC would contest 688 communes.

He said the registration process had gone without a hitch and there had not been any Covid-19-related disruptions.

Sok Penglong, head of the KP’s information department, said his party registered with the Ministry of Interior on November 23. It had taken three months to prepare candidates and set targets in three zones, before expanding operations, he added.

He said authorities in Boeung Ta Prohm and Ream communes of Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nob district and authorities in the Kansoam Ak commune of Prey Veng province’s Kampong Trabek district had interfered with his party’s activities, pressuring them to remove some candidates – actions which he said contradicted calls for fairness made by Prime Minister Hun Sen and interior minister Sar Kheng.

Lin Sarin, chief of Ream commune in Preah Sihanouk province, denied interfering or putting any pressure on the candidates. He said he had merely asked them if they were sure they wanted to support a different party.

“I just asked if their leadership would be effective. Do my questions affect their leader? Anyway, their candidates have been registered, so there are no problems,” he said.

Sorida said he had yet to receive reports of threats from commune authorities, but if there were irregularities in the registration process, parties had the rights to complain to the NEC under article 14 of the law on commune council elections.

FUNCINPEC spokesman Nhoeun Raden told The Post on March 6 that the party leaders had worked hard to register candidates for the council elections. They had encountered some difficulties in terms of resources and training for the candidates, which resulted in delays and insufficient number of the candidates for communes across the country.

“Yes, the party has sufficient structure at the provincial, district and commune levels, but a more important factor is the party’s means, including both resources and training. We noticed that the filing processes of documents for our officials had changed, so submission of the application forms was very slow,” he said.