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Candlelight’s Raiya told to pay fine

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The Kampong Cham Provincial Election Commission has ordered Candlelight Party candidate Kong Raiya for using inappropriate language during the election campaign. FB

Candlelight’s Raiya told to pay fine

The Kampong Cham Provincial Election Commission on May 28 imposed a fine of five million riel ($1,250) on Kong Raiya – Candlelight Party representative for Sdao commune of Kang Meas district – for using inappropriate language which breached articles 171 and 181 of the law on commune council elections.

Yim Sotheany, president of the commission’s trial chamber, told The Post on May 29 that although he was fined, the more than 10 Candlelight candidates in the district are still eligible to contest the elections, based on articles 65 and 181 of the same law.

The case against Raiya, his party activists and local candidates stemmed from a complaint filed by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), as he was seen publically handing money to party members during the campaign. He has three days to appeal the decision, or the ruling will go into effect.

Reached for comment on May 29, Raiya – who is the supporting president of the Candlelight Party for the district – said he was not satisfied with the decision and would consult his lawyers about appealing it.

He said the decision was not based on the distribution of money, but on improper language. He questioned how the chamber had reached that decision.

“In the video clip that I posted, I was distributing money and materials to candidates at each commune of Kang Meas district and I said so clearly in that video … The same video was then forwarded without sound and people said that I used money to buy votes,” he said.

National Election Committee (NEC) spokesman Som Sorida told The Post on May 29 that Raiya had not just distributed financial donations in Kang Meas district, but had also used threatening language against the CPP on social media.

He said the CPP had filed a complaint about these actions and demanded the removal of his candidacy in the coming elections. The removal of Raiya’s candidacy would only take place if he failed to respect the decision of the trial chamber, he added.

Should Raiya file an appeal, he said the NEC will have three days to investigate, collect evidence and make a decision.

“After specialist officials submit a report about the circumstances surrounding the complaint, the NEC – with a team from the provisional election commission – will open a public hearing to solve the problem,” he said.

According to Article 181 of the commune council election law, any individual caught insulting another political party or candidate – or inciting discrimination against any ethnic group, race or religion – during the election campaign is subject to a fine of between five and 10 million riel.

In case of repeated offence, they could be stricken from election lists for five years.

As of May 28, a total of 38 complaints had been received by the NEC since campaigning began on May 21. Some had been resolved, but nine complaints had been referred to provincial election commissions after commune level officials failed to find solutions.

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