No Investigation Into Prime Minister’s Comments: NEC

The National Election Committee reiterated on Friday that it would not investigate Prime Minister Hun Sen’s election campaign speeches about waging war to maintain power because the election body had not received a complaint, saying it was taking a similar stance regarding opposition advertisements featuring former CNRP President Sam Rainsy.

The premier warned during a three-hour speech on Thursday to more than 4,000 people on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich that the CPP must win the upcoming commune and national elections to avoid the country being plunged into civil war, and said he was willing to “eliminate 100 or 200 people” to prevent a transfer of power.

Members of the National Election Committee Left: Hang Puthea and Right: Hing Thirith holds a meeting about commune election campaign at the headquarter on Friday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Such rhetoric is supposed to be barred during the two-week campaign period leading up to the June 4 commune elections, but the National Election Committee (NEC) does not pursue investigations unless a complaint has been filed, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said.

“The NEC is not a court institution that has a prosecutor to file complaints against anybody,” he said.

During the first six days of the two-week election campaign, 34 complaints were filed with the NEC’s Commune Election Committee across 11 provinces, the NEC reported on Friday.

Of those complaints, 29 were filed by the CPP against the opposition CNRP, and the remaining five were filed by the CNRP, said Keo Phalla, head of the NEC’s legal service and dispute department.

Mr. Phalla, speaking at a news conference at the NEC’s headquarters on Friday, said 29 of the complaints had already been settled.

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at a meeting in Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich on Thursday, in a still image taken from video posted to his Facebook page.

Three were pending with provincial election committees, and two were filed about fatal traffic accidents during rallies in Pursat and Battambang provinces, he said.

Mr. Puthea described the election campaign as generally smooth, with stable public order, security and no violence.

He said that inappropriate campaigning using speeches by former CNRP President Sam Rainsy had been reported in some communes, but as there had been no complaints, the NEC could take no action.

Mr. Rainsy’s speeches are ostensibly banned because he has a criminal conviction for incitement.

Mr. Hun Sen on Thursday verbally asked the NEC to look into a number of social media posts by CNRP party members that supposedly accuse CPP supporters of being “yuon,” a derogatory term for Vietnamese people. However, the NEC does not consider the request an official complaint and has not pursued it, Mr. Puthea said.

He added that the NEC had not yet issued any warnings to anyone or any political party against using intimidating messages during the election campaign.

On Thursday, the CNRP said that it would not be filing a complaint with the NEC about Mr. Hun Sen’s speech.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the head of the National Election Committee’s legal service and dispute department as Keo Phall.

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