CPP fires first salvo with thousand-strong march through city.
TANG CHHIN SOTHY
CPP supporters rally Saturday ahead of May 17's provincial, district and municipal council election. AFP
SEVERAL thousand supporters of the Cambodian People's Party marched through the capital Saturday to kick off the two-week election campaign running up to May 17's provincial, district and municipal council polls.
Just four parties - the CPP, Sam Rainsy Party, Norodom Ranariddh Party and Funcinpec - will take part in the election, with voting restricted to the country's 11,353 commune councillors.
"The general political environment during the early part of the election campaign has been calm, and we haven't received any complaints from the political parties," said Tep Nytha, secretary general of the National Election Committee.
But he said that due to the indirect nature of the election, many campaign activities were being conducted within the country's 1,621 commune offices rather than in public.
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the CPP would hold additional rallies as the campaign unfolds in order to educate people about its political program and encourage other parties' councillors to vote for the CPP.
But the opposition raised criticisms the campaign would make no difference to the election results, and that its "indirect" nature made it irrelevant for the Cambodian people.
"The SRP is holding campaigns at its commune councillors' offices to strengthen their determination not to sell their consciences to the CPP," said Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann, referring to its recent allegations of vote-buying by the ruling party.
Party President Sam Rainsy told the Post Thursday that the party would also run a "highly visible" campaign that would disseminate the SRP's message, despite the May 17 poll being a foregone conclusion.
"This is more than a campaign limited to the action voters. It is intended for the 8 million potential voters in the next election," he said.
Local election monitor Comfrel has said it will boycott the elections, claiming that since the poll is restricted to party representatives it will not reflect the will of the people.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO