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NEC to parties: play nice

National Election Committee officials speak about the current political climate during a press conference at the NEC headquarters in Phnom Penh
National Election Committee officials speak about the current political climate during a press conference at the NEC headquarters in Phnom Penh. SRENG MENG SRUN

NEC to parties: play nice

The National Election Committee yesterday chided political parties for immature behaviour on the election trail, calling for them to be more civil with each other for the rest of the campaign.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, NEC vice-chairman Sin Chumbo said the first week of campaigning had seen rude, mocking and vitriolic outbursts between the parties and requested a more “mature” political attitude.

He also called on party leaders to urge their supporters to make sure that no violence would be incited by discriminatory tactics, asking them instead to pursue peaceful methods of campaigning.

“The NEC would like to appeal again to political party activists to keep your maturity. What the NEC has noted so far is not only observed [by us] but also international [organisations] who want our campaign to be peaceful,” he said.

He cited United Nations rights envoy Surya Subedi and European Union delegates, both of whom have appealed to political parties to remain respectful and maintain peace during the campaign.

The NEC also confirmed yesterday that provincial and commune election commissions had received 70 complaints in the first eight days of the campaign – mostly related to the disruption of rallies and the tearing down of election propaganda in 13 provinces.

The lion’s share of complaints were between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the Cambodia National Rescue Party, with 33 complaints already resolved, NEC Legal and Dispute Department director Keo Phalla, said.

Election monitor Comfrel also released a statement yesterday saying it had observed 61 violations since the campaign kicked off last Thursday. The count included 16 cases of campaign procedure violations – mostly involving village chiefs joining CPP marches – and 13 cases of armed forces personnel taking part in rallies.

Comfrel also reported two cases of political party gift-giving in Ratanakkiri that allegedly involved the CPP.

“There has not been anyone seriously injured,” NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha said. “This is something which the NEC has to pay close attention to and prevent before it occurs.”

Despite being chastised by the NEC, both parties yesterday sought to deflect the negative attention towards each other.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that he welcomed the NEC’s appeal for political maturity, but said enforcement against the CPP would be impossible.

“[CNRP] is a victim because the [CPP] blocks us almost everywhere. The ruling party is the abuser of the law,” he said.

Tith Sothea, a spokesman at the government’s Press and Quick Reaction Unit, said the CPP’s message had long been mature and claimed his party had never abused any other.

“But the opposition party has used rude words and insulted the [CPP],” he said. “We will leave it to the NEC to decide whether the CNRP has maturity or not.”

Hang Puthea, director of the election monitoring organisation NICFEC, said the major parties were both to blame.

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