Elected Candlelight Officials Allege CPP Commune Chiefs Are Neglecting Them

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The Candlelight Party’s campaign rally in Phnom Penh on May 21, 2022. (Roun Ry/VOD)
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Candlelight Party commune officials in Prey Veng’s Svay Antor district said ruling party chiefs are not assigning them any work.

Opposition officials from Svay Antor’s Samraong and Damrei Puon communes said they were yet to be assigned their official responsibilities even though the councils had been sworn-in in July.

The Candlelight Party won four commune chief positions at the June commune election, 25 first deputies and 1,360 second deputy commune chiefs.

Hen Sitha, a second deputy chief from Samraong, said he was a three-term council member and was disappointed that the commune chief, Mout Samean, had still not assigned him his responsibilities.

He said Candlelight officials were eager to work for the people and that 1,600 people in the commune had voted for opposition representation in the commune council. Sitha said he sits in his office from morning to evening with no work to do.

“We are determined to work for people who voted for us,” he said. But we don’t have our positions. This is very unfair for our supporters.”

The second deputy commune chief generally supports the commune chief in administration, social work, public services and public order, while the first deputy chief primarily assists in financial affairs, according to the Law on Commune Administration.

Sitha added that the commune chief had given their work to the first deputy chief, who was also from the ruling party.

Samean, the commune chief, rejected the accusation that he was sidestepping his opposition colleagues, and said the Candlelight had a different political outlook on issues.

“We don’t have any of our necessary work yet. All of us don’t,” he said. “Why do we not work [if there is work] because the people voted for us.”

In nearby Damrei Puon commune, Om Lyna, Candlelight’s second deputy chief, said she had no work a month after joining the council.

“The second deputy chief’s work is dispute solving but didn’t give it to me. They never asked me to do it,” she said.

Pech Song, a district governor in Svay Antor, also said the communes still did not have much work to do because councilors were just assuming their positions.

“I will tell the [commune chiefs] if the [deputies] are really hard workers” then they should be given work, he said. “Don’t worry, I will meet the commune chiefs.”

Ly Sothearayuth, secretary of Candlelight Party, said he was collecting evidence of cases against his party’s commune councilors.

“After I have the information [I can determine] in which case it is intimidation or discrimination,” he said.

The Candlelight Party has accused local officials of intimidating its candidates in the run-up to the commune election, including some cases of violence against party members.

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