Opposition Undecided on Future of Risky Election Campaign Slogan

CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay on Monday said the opposition party had not yet decided whether to keep using a campaign slogan for the coming commune elections that could land the party in court, clarifying comments he made late last week.

The CPP has threatened to sue the party for incitement over the slogan it unveiled earlier this month at a party congress: “Change commune chiefs who serve the party with commune chiefs who serve the people.”

CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay speaks at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh last year. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

On Friday, Radio Free Asia quoted Mr. Chhay as saying that the CNRP would issue a five-point policy plan ahead of the June 4 poll “without stating this slogan,” indicating that the party was abandoning the phrase.

On Monday, however, Mr. Chhay said his comments had been misrepresented.

“I said to them we’re not concerned with any decision from the court or the NEC [National Election Committee] if this slogan is inappropriate,” he said. “For us, we don’t see any problem with this slogan.”

Mr. Chhay said it was true that the five-point plan would be disseminated without the slogan, but did not believe that meant the CNRP was abandoning it. He said there was no need for the party to keep pushing the slogan because it was now well-ensconced in the public conscience.

“The slogan has already been heard by every Cambodian, so we don’t need to promote that slogan anymore,” he said.

Asked whether party officials would stop uttering the line, however, Mr. Chhay was noncommittal.

“I don’t know; we have not decided,” he said. “It’s not the time to campaign yet.”

The official campaign period is set to run from May 20 to June 2.

On Sunday, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said his party would not drop its threat to sue until the CNRP released a public statement abandoning the slogan.

The CPP has not specified which laws it would use if it were to sue the CNRP over the slogan, but it would not rule out the Law on Political Parties, which was recently amended to include incitement as grounds for dissolving an entire party.

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