Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - GDP says its billboards were removed by ruling party officials

GDP says its billboards were removed by ruling party officials

GDP board members meet on Sunday to discuss selecting candidates for July’s national elections. Now, they warn they might not participate if the political atmosphere doesn’t change. Photo supplied
GDP board members meet on Sunday to discuss selecting candidates for July’s national elections. Now, they warn they might not participate if the political atmosphere doesn’t change. Photo supplied

GDP says its billboards were removed by ruling party officials

Official within the Grassroots Democracy Party threatened to pull out of the national elections in July, demanding a more positive atmosphere after ruling party officials allegedly removed GDP billboards in Battambang and Phnom Penh.

“We have announced our stance widely that we will participate in the July 2018 election, but we demand a fruitful atmosphere that meets all points, including posting banners, visiting members and activists, freedom to disseminate information and propaganda, satisfactory local and international observations,” Yang Saing Koma, a co-founder of the GDP, said in an interview yesterday.

“Recently in Battambang province our banner was cut down by district authorities without informing us,” he said, adding that the party has had similar problems in Phnom Penh.

“We think we will not participate if we cannot even post a party banner and our banners have been cut down . . . The authorities in Phnom Penh don’t seem to cooperate or give us an opportunity to do activities,” Koma said, adding that when GDP requested permission for activities to City Hall, they were redirected to other officials ad infinitum.

Koma said the party would file an official complaint to the Ministry of Interior this week.

Cambodia’s main opposition party – the Cambodia National Rescue Party – was dissolved at the government’s behest in November, prompting the international community to openly question the legitimacy of this year’s national elections, and leaving minor parties to jostle for relevance.

Observers have since labelled the Kingdom a “one-party dictatorship”, an image the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has fervently disputed, pointing to minor parties as purported evidence of a vibrant democracy.

Should the GDP – a reform-minded party co-founded by the revered slain political analyst Kem Ley – pull out of the race, it would be yet another blow to the CPP narrative that the Kingdom still enjoys political pluralism.

Though the smaller parties stand little chance of posing a credible threat to the CPP, in a leaked internal message to other party leaders, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that it would be a “double loss” if the CPP were to be defeated by a minor party after dissolving the CNRP.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan, meanwhile, brushed off the GDP’s complaints yesterday.

“When we heard that this party would participate in the 2018 election, I was happy . . . but now he has started to change,” he said.

“If it follows the principle and Law on Political Parties and NEC procedures, there will be no problem with local authorities,” Eysan continued, dismissing the claims that any banners had been removed.

Yoeurng Sotheara, legal officer at election watchdog Comfrel, said destroying banners was “illegal” and presents a bad “image” of the fairness of the upcoming election.

“It sounds a bit like an unfair competition,” he said, adding that also betrayed a lack of “respect” for the GDP.

“The implementation of the law by authorities has to be equal,” he said.

Spokespeople from the National Election Committee and City Hall said they were unaware of the situation.

MOST VIEWED

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National