The ruling CPP has filed complaints against four Candlelight commune chief candidates in Pailin for using a slogan calling for the removal of “the commune chief serving the party.”
Thorng Thorn, Candlelight’s deputy president for Pailin province, said a CPP representative had filed four complaints — one each against their chief candidates in O’Andoung, Stung Trang, O’Tavao and Pailin communes — for using a party slogan.
The CPP plaintiff claimed that the slogan “change the commune chief serving the party with the commune chief serving the people” was incendiary and violated Article 71 of commune election law, which prohibits parties and candidates from threatening or intimidating their opponents or inciting voters to commit violence, among other vaguely worded instructions.
The same slogan was used by the CNRP in the run up to the 2017 commune election, but the party agreed to withdraw the slogan after being threatened with incitement charges by the CPP, including from Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Thorn said they had resolved the complaint at the commune election office in O’Andoung, no resolution had been reached for the complaints in Stung Trang and O’Tavao, and were yet to discuss Pailin commune’s issue.
The Candlelight official denied the slogan was inflammatory.
“My conclusion is that this is to prevent and disturb us. … We are not inciting anything,” he said.
Hang Puthea, spokesperson for the National Election Committee, said the election body had not received any details about the complaints.
He said, “I have not got information about the issue. I will investigate first.”
Korn Savang, an election monitor with NGO the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said the use of a political slogan that is broad and not specific should be allowed.
“We cannot find any point showing that the use of the word ‘change’ is against the law,” he said.
The CNRP routinely used the word “change” during the 2013 and 2017 elections, much to the consternation of the CPP, which alleged use of the work was incitement.