Candlelight Banner Taken Down for ‘Future’ Infrastructure Work

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A party sign removed in Phnom Penh’s Toul Sangke I commune in Russei Keo district in May 2022. (Supplied)

The Candlelight Party has accused a Russei Keo commune chief of tearing down a party banner in the capital, with the officials claiming the billboard was erected on state land. 

Sar Longdeth, the head of Candlelight’s Phnom Penh working group, said party activists had put up a party banner on May 6 in Russei Keo’s Toul Sangke I commune, but it was removed by the local commune chief. The party has alleged issues with putting up party banners and the intimidation and harassment of their candidates by local officials.

Longdeth added the party had sent an official letter to commune authorities informing them of the activity with 15 party supporters at two locations in the commune.

Tuol Sangke I commune chief Reach Phavoeun issued a letter disallowing the erection of party banners at the requested locations.

“As a commune chief, she did not play the role of serving the public nor did she play the role of compromising with political parties in line with democracy,” Longdeth said.

Speaking to VOD, Phavoeun, the commune chief, said there was a canal where the Candlelight Party wanted to put its billboard and that it could block future work on the canal.

“When we wrote to them, they did not remove it. So on behalf of the authorities, I have the right to remove it because they illegitimately installed it,” she said.

She acknowledged that a League for Democracy Party banner was also there but that it was erected a long time ago.

Sam Kuntheamy, with election watchdog Nicfec, noted that there was beer advertising on every street, but commune authorities were preventing political parties from erecting their billboards, despite being in compliance with election regulations.

Separately, the Candlelight Party’s provincial head in Pailin received a second court summons for incitement — part of two cases being pursued against him since last month.

Khem Mony Kosal was removed from a health department post last March after criticizing a local Covid-19 response, and is now an opposition commune chief candidate in O’Andoung. He is facing lawsuits for incitement and public defamation — the former related to last year’s Covid-19 criticism, and the latter about a recent electoral complaint he filed to the commune election committee.

He initially asked for a delay in his hearings, and has now been summoned for a second time to appear for questioning on incitement on May 11, Mony Kosal said, adding that he planned to attend, but would discuss the situation with a lawyer.

“It is the same political motivation and is intended to prevent my actions because election time is approaching,” Mony Kosal said. “It relates to nothing. Yes — it is because I am a Candlelight Party official.”

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