Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has instructed municipal and provincial governors to make it easy for all registered parties to conduct political activities so that they can contest the commune council elections scheduled for June 5 and the general election next year.

In a letter dated February 7, Sar Kheng suggested that the governors enable all parties to do so in a free, fair and just manner based on the principles of a multi-party liberal democracy.

“This is to ensure the proper implementation of the laws, rules and procedures relating to the 5th -mandate commune council elections and the 7th-mandate national election in 2023,” the letter read.

Sar Kheng also advised all parties to adhere to the rules concerning the opening of political party headquarters, the erection of signage and large gatherings. He urged that they cooperate with local authorities on security measures to maintain safety and public order.

National Election Committee (NEC) spokesman Som Sorida welcomed the request, saying that political activities are under the jurisdiction of local authorities, he said.

“During the 14 days of the election campaigns, activities will be conducted under the auspices of the NEC. Parties must also receive permission from local authorities to open headquarters and erect signage,” he told The Post on February 8.

Kheuy Sinoeun, vice-president of the Cambodian Nation Love Party, told The Post on February 8 that the party had received this notice from the ministry and sub-national level authorities.

He said this was not a new development, as the ministry had issued a similar notice prior to previous elections. Local authorities, he alleged, had not followed the instructions totally, as his party had been refused permission to hang some banners whereas other parties had been allowed to hang theirs.

He added that when the party had attempted to register some candidates, officials in some communes had asked them about their backgrounds and other personal matters. This had led to some people withdrawing their candidacies. He felt that this was a form of intimidation.

“Local authorities have yet to follow the ministry’s instructions, and so I ask all local authorities to make it easier for political parties under Article 4 of the Law on Political Parties to erect signage in any locations where other parties are permitted to do so,” he said.

Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophorn told The Post on February 8 that authorities at all levels had always made the campaigning process simple for all political parties and that they had also joined them in maintaining order when a large number of people gathered.

“Overall, we have not had disputes. Sometimes a party has put up a banner in a park or too close to a road, we have asked them to move it slightly. When parties carry out activities in private homes, we facilitate traffic flow for them. Speaking specifically, we have never stopped them,” he said.