Incoming Council Vows to Work Together Despite Rocky Prior Term

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Choeun Nasy at a GDP rally at Sakream commune, in Kampong Thom’s Prasat Balaing district, on May 26, 2022. (Ananth Baliga/VOD)

As newly elected commune councils are sworn in, councilors from a Kampong Thom constituency vowed to work together, even though a GDP second deputy previously accused noncooperation from his CPP colleagues.

The Interior Ministry has started the process of swearing-in new commune councils after the National Election Committee announced final results for the June election last week. Hang Puthea, an NEC spokesperson, said the process would take around two weeks in all, and councilors would also receive training from the Interior Ministry.

The election, which saw the CPP dominate with 75% of the vote, will nevertheless bring in more diverse commune councils across the country as the Candlelight Party joins the commune leadership in most constituencies and smaller parties provide some further representation.

In Kampong Thom, Chouen Nasy will represent the Grassroots Democratic Party as a second deputy chief again this term. The candidate will have a CPP commune chief and a Candlelight first deputy as part of the council’s leadership.

The Sakream commune council’s seven seats were split between three parties: the ruling party with three councilors, Candlelight with two and the minor GDP with the last two positions.

Nasy believed the council will be more balanced given the seat allotment and hoped the new commune chief will be open to ideas from members of the two opposition parties. 

“Voices from three political poles in that commune [create] a balanced political pole, and the commune chief cannot ride the horse without holding the reins as before,” he said.

Nasy added that the split in seats was indicative of an electorate who wanted their representatives to work together.

The GDP councilor was frustrated with a lack of cooperation from the CPP commune chief when VOD interviewed him in the run up to the commune election. He said the commune chief at the time did not help with local projects he started, like a road-building effort, and refused to allocate a budget for the road.

“There were times when it was very difficult for me when he did not cooperate,” Nasy said in May. “So I almost gave up.”

Chan Sophal is the CPP commune chief who was re-elected at the June 5 election. He claimed in May that he worked with other councilors, but did not have the budget to allocate to Nasy’s road projects.

Last week, he said he would continue to work with other party representatives — like he had done in his previous term.

“No matter which party they came from, we need to cooperate and follow the government. No separation of the parties. We will lead together,” he said.

Before the dissolution of the CNRP in 2017, the commune had a similar 3-2-2 split with the CPP, the now-dissolved opposition CNRP and the GDP. After November 2017, the two CNRP seats went to the CPP, giving them a 5-2 majority on the council.

With Candlelight’s surprising performance in the June election, the party will take over the first deputy position, which will be filled by party councilor Tun Sy. The incoming first deputy said disagreements among councilors won’t bode well for their constituents.

“The first recommendation is to join together to build up the commune and village to progress,” he said. “If there is no agreement, it will be difficult.”

Additional reporting by Ouch Sony

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