Pailin Officials Block Candlelight From Putting Up Signs

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Candlelight Party members raise an election sign in Pursat province on March 4, 2022. (Candlelight Party Facebook page)
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Commune officials in Pailin have stopped the Candlelight Party from installing four party banners, claiming that other political parties had reserved the same locations but refusing to name the parties.

The Candlelight Party had made a request on January 20 to install four party billboards in Sala Krao commune. But a letter from the commune on January 25 rejected their request because other parties had already requested to set up party signage at the four locations,  according to Khem Monykosal, head of Candlelight’s executive committee in Pailin.

The letter did not specify which parties wanted to use the same locations and local officials were not forthcoming with the information, Monykosal said.

Sala Krao commune officials refused to show him a list of the parties and commune chief Yoeum Phoeun and Sala Krao district governor were unavailable when he tried to meet them.

“I waited to meet the commune chief and the commune chief was busy in a meeting at the district hall. When I arrived at the district hall, the district governor was also in the meeting with the commune chief,” Monykosal.

He said the incident was an example of political discrimination faced by the opposition party. The opposition party faced similar obstacles last year, when local officials across the country blocked attempts to install party signage in the run up to the commune election.

Phoeun said he could not reveal the list of parties who wanted to use the same locations and said apart from them there was no targeting of Candlelight.

“I don’t need to tell you who but just that it was already requested. How can they set up close to each other?”

Similarly, district governor Sear Sokhom said there was no favoritism in dealing with the political parties and that political signage was not important; what was important is the work you do for the people.

National Election Committee spokesperson Hang Puthea was reluctant to comment on the case and said it was being handled by local officials.

Sam Kuntheamy, head of election watchdog Nicfec, said parties should be allowed to set up billboards and found local officials’ reasons questionable.

“There are many parties that set up signs close to each other,” he said.

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