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Sam Rainsy Party in Royal trouble

Sam Rainsy Party in Royal trouble

The opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) is being investigated by the National Election

Committee (NEC) over its use of the King's image in campaign leaflets. Such an act

is expressly forbidden in the election code of conduct.

The SRP defended its campaign material, insisting the image was of party president

Sam Rainsy. The fact that King Norodom Sihanouk appeared in two photographs was pure

coincidence, said spokesman Ung Bun Ang.

"It's a picture of Sam Rainsy, it's not a picture of the King," he said.

"The King happened to be in the picture with him."

The leaflet features a color photo of Rainsy kneeling before the King on the front,

and another of both men, smiling, on the back. The text on the front proclaims: "Sam

Rainsy is listening to the ideas of King Sihanouk, Monarch of Cambodia".

The issue is pursued further inside the leaflet: "Funcinpec's previous ideals

have been preserved by the Sam Rainsy Party, which clings to morality, reality and

justice, all these ideals associated with the King."

The NEC was not amused. Its code of conduct is clear: "Political parties, their

agents, candidates and supporters shall avoid the use of the King's photo or name

... to seek votes."

An investigation by the NEC's provincial commission in Siem Reap is underway. An

NEC spokesman said if the allegation was true, the party would be in violation of

the law and it would issue a warning.

Bun Ang said if that happened, the party would withdraw the leaflets.

"We just wanted to show that we are normal people," Bun Ang said. "It's

proof that we are not republicans."

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