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Cambodia’s Candlelight Party (CP) preparing complaint to CCC over registration rejection

Soth Koemsoeun / Khmer Times Wed, May 17, 2023

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Candlelight Party leaders speak to the media during a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh. KT/Noun Soksarim

The Candlelight Party (CP) are preparing a complaint to the Constitutional Council of Cambodia (CCC) to demand a legal settlement, after the National Election Committee (NEC) rejected their candidate registration.

CP Vice-President Son Chhay, said in a press conference yesterday that “We are preparing a complaint to the CCC to demand a legal settlement, but we have not yet set a deadline to file the complaint.

“We still hope the CCC will give justice for the CP, as we have already tried to find the additional documents that meet all of the election law requirements,” he said.

“The NEC needs the additional documents including the original party registration, No. 193 dated 1998, for recognition as a legitimate party at the Ministry of Interior. This document has been missing since the dissolution of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) in 2017,” he added.

The CP continues to seek justice by filing a complaint with the CCC, but the CP will not protest by demonstration, as the party has a non-protest policy, he said.

The CP is dissatisfied with the NEC’s decision to reject its registration to run in the upcoming National Election, which they find unacceptable, Chhay added.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea, said in a press conference at Phnom Penh Airport on Monday that the NEC cannot facilitate parties that do not have proper documents in accordance with the law.

“The absence of any political party will not affect the election process, but it is the right of any party to participate or not to participate in the National Election,” he said.

“The party that meets all the conditions within the NEC deadline is officially registered, if any party does not meet the conditions, the NEC will not to register the party,” he said.

A press release issued by the NEC on Monday stated, “The registration of political parties for the 7th National Assembly election in July, the CP’s application has been rejected as the party failed to  attach the original document of registration of political parties with the Ministry of Interior,” it said.

As of May 8, the NEC has received applications for registration from 20 political parties.

Fifteen parties have submitted sufficient and correct documentation in accordance with the requirements of the law and the NEC has decided to approve the registration of these parties.

A total of five parties, including Khmer Anti-Poverty Party, Khmer Economic Development Party, CP, Women’s Party for Women and the Khmer Unity Great Nation Party, received requests from NEC to complete and correct documents.

Of these five parties, three have corrected their documentation and the conditions have been met and the NEC has registered them.

A statement from the NEC on May 13 said the Khmer Unity Great Nation Party, still had time to submit its correct documentation.

As for the CP, they did not submit enough documentation and did not follow the instructions and the NEC decided to reject the registration of the CP on May 15. The CP will not have a chance to contest the upcoming National Election.

According to the law, the NEC has seven days to review the documents in accordance with Article 27 of the Law on the National Assembly Election and all political parties have five days to send in the missing documentation, after receiving NEC’s request.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday warned supporters and leaders of the CP they could face imprisonment, if they dare to stage demonstrations against the NEC.

Mr Hun Sen has said that holding a non-violent demonstration against the NEC is repressive and it would cause instability.

He ordered the authorities and the police, especially the armed forces everywhere, not to forgive any supporters or leaders of the party who dared to protest.

The CP’s demonstrations would undermine public order, safety and social stability as Cambodia is hosting the 32nd SEA Games, Mr Hun Sen has said.

He also ordered prisons officials to prepare a place to jail the CP leaders, if they gather to protest.

“Please, supporters and other leaders of the CP, do not be deceived and go to jail or die for a few leaders of this party.”

“I urge all the people to not join the protests with those CP leaders because the authorities nationwide, will not to allow rallies that provoke public disorder,” Mr Hun Sen added.

The CP, founded in 1995 as the Khmer Nation Party, was renamed the Sam Rainsy Party in 1998. In 2018, it was renamed the Candlelight Party.

The party is currently the official opposition to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Since the decline of coalition partner Funcinpec in the 2008 National Assembly elections, the CP is now considered the second largest party and the main opposition party in Cambodia.

SOURCE: Khmer Times, Cambodia Wed, May 17, 2023

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