The National Election Committee has rejected an opposition campaign advertisement from airing on a state-owned television station because it features former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, according to a letter from the body.
The letter informing the Cambodia National Rescue Party of the decision is dated May 23 and addressed to party spokesman Yim Sovann.
“The National Election Committee decided not to accept [the] third video spot of the Cambodia National Rescue Party to air because the Ministry of Information has never allowed state-run television station TVK to air any statements of a convict,” the letter reads.
Rainsy, who faces two convictions widely seen as politically motivated, was compelled to resign from the CNRP in February to avoid his court cases being used against the party under controversial new laws. He has not stepped foot in Cambodia since 2015 to avoid being imprisoned.
The NEC’s letter said a different spot submitted by the CNRP will instead be aired.
NEC Deputy Secretary-General Som Sorida said that according to articles 67 and 71 of the Law on Commune Elections, only a political party, a candidate or a party representative can speak about a party’s platform in advertising spots.
Article 67 empowers party representatives and candidates to campaign, but says nothing about barring nonrepresentatives. Article 71, meanwhile, simply forbids insulting language.
“We have asked CNRP representatives whether Sam Rainsy is a representative of the CNRP in spreading their political message,” Sorida said. “At this point, there is no reply.”
CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua said the party accepted the NEC’s decision, but Rainsy’s message will be spread during the ongoing campaign.
Sorida acknowledged that the CNRP had already played an audio message from Rainsy during the campaign but said the NEC hadn’t received any complaints about that.
Since the campaign period began on May 20, a total of 20 complaints have been filed in eight provinces.
Fifteen complaints were launched by the CPP, according to a report on complaints.
The complaints are being looked into at the commune and provincial level.