The opposition Candlelight Party has been entirely stripped of candidates in 11 communes, but the national elections body is now done removing nominees for the June election, a spokesperson said on Monday.
The party applied to run in 1,649 of 1,652 communes, but over the past few weeks, the National Election Committee has been hearing complaints over its registrations that has led to a series of disqualifications that the party has branded as politically motivated.
Over the weekend, the party — the second-largest in the country by candidates fielded — lost another commune, O’Russei II in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district.
But NEC spokesperson Som Sorida said on Monday that the commune — the 11th in which the party has been entirely disqualified — would be the last.
The committee technically had until April 24 to finalize all candidate lists, but as of Saturday the process was over, Sorida said. The Candlelight Party had lost communes in Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Prey Veng and Pursat, he said.
“The NEC deleted candidate lists of the Candlelight Party with clear reasons,” he said. “[The party] selected Cambodian people who do not read and write the Khmer language as candidates for the commune election.”
“It is not like the Candlelight Party has said. … Please do not make accusations without reason and do not use feelings to solve problems.”
Now, every commune in the country would assign numbers for each running party, Sorida said.
The Candlelight Party issued a statement on Monday that the removal of its candidates was irregular. “The NEC decided to follow the political tendencies and claims of the plaintiffs without any clear investigation,” the statement alleged.
There are no clearly stated rules and procedures for removing candidates and deleting entire commune nominee lists, it said. The party has previously complained of entire lists being removed even when there were only a couple of transgressions.
Separately, a former official from the banned opposition CNRP was arrested over alleged incitement and plotting. Youk Neang, a former member of the Phnom Penh municipal council, was arrested on Friday, her son, Ouch Vannarith, said on Saturday.
His mother was meeting three other women at a sugarcane juice shop in Dangkao district, and all were initially detained. But the three women were released while Neang was sent to court, Vannarith said.
His mother had been previously summoned for allegedly supporting the failed return of CNRP leader Sam Rainsy, he added.
Phnom Penh Municipal Police spokesperson San Sok Seiha said the arrest warrant for Neang was for plotting and incitement, but referred further details to the court. Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Suos Vichearandy could not be reached for comment.