NEC Considers CNRP Request to Reverse Election Rally Ban

The CNRP on Tuesday asked the National Election Committee (NEC) to help reverse a City Hall ban on election marches along major Phnom Penh streets, a spokesman said. However, the NEC appeared to have drawn the opposite conclusion from their meeting.

—Commune Election 2017—

After more than two hours of discussion, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann emerged from the NEC headquarters and told reporters he had asked the panel to advise City Hall to withdraw the ban, which encompasses Norodom, Monivong, Russian and Preah Sihanouk boulevards and some major public parks and markets.

National Election Committee deputy secretary-general Som Sorida speaks to reporters at the committee’s headquarters in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Hannah Hawkins/The Cambodia Daily)

The two-week campaign period begins on Saturday and ends two days before the June 4 commune elections.

“I believe there are many people who live along these streets. They have the right to receive the information from political parties,” Mr. Sovann said. So City Hall “should open the roads, and we will cooperate with authorities to organize public order to avoid traffic jams.”

However, Som Sorida, an NEC deputy secretary-general who was present at the meeting, told reporters that the CNRP had accepted that major roads were off-limits, similar to a ban that had been in place over the 2013 national election campaign period.

“What he requested was to allow them to share leaflets in the market and to use the loudspeakers outside the market,” Mr. Sorida said.

The elections body will respond to the CNRP’s request before Saturday, he added.

Contacted later in the day, Mr. Sovann repeated that he had not accepted the ban on parading along major roads and noted that political parties had been allowed to march on major roads during previous election campaigns.

“Whatever they said, I don’t know,” he said.

He said he had also asked the NEC to allow parties to distribute leaflets and use loudspeakers at markets, as well as to campaign in major parks.

Mr. Sorida “agreed with sharing the leaflets—no need to ban anymore. Loudspeaker, he will discuss more with NEC members,” he said, referring to the nine executive members of the election body.

On Saturday, the party will launch its election campaign by parading through 19 communes, starting at its headquarters in Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Loeu commune, Mr. Sovann said.

Sok Eysan, spokesman for the ruling CPP, said his party was also ready to rally on Saturday, though separate parades would be contained within each commune, rather than traveling across communes. He said the party would respect City Hall’s ban.

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