Candlelight Document a Ruse: PM

PM Hun Sen addresses factory workers at Royal Group Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on May 26. Photo: Prime Minister Hun Sen's Facebook

PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Sen​ has accused the Candlelight Party of sabotaging its own election registration to trick the international community into condemning the government.

“Their goal, which I’m analyzing here, is that they do not want this party to participate in the election because they know the party will lose,” he told factory workers at Royal Group Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on May 26.

“I think it is the maneuver of someone. What they want is to get foreigners to oppress Cambodia.”

The party’s registration for the election was rejected by the National Election Council (NEC) because of its failure to submit its original registration certificate.

Party spokespersons Kimsour Phirith, Rong Chhun and Son Chhay could not be reached for comment.

Party vice president Son Chhay said on May 16 that the documents were with the Ministry of Interior.

The party used to rent headquarters with the court-dissolved CNRP, he said. The party was not permitted to access the documents when the CNRP was dissolved until the building was cleared, causing all the documents to be lost.

The party appealed to the Constitutional Council against the NEC’s decision but lost.

Later, the party issued a statement that the ruling was not in line with the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement and violated the party’s right to participate in the election. It also violated the right to vote and be a candidate and the decision-making rights of the people.

“The Candlelight Party asks for a pardon from the members and supporters that the party cannot contest the election,” it said.

“The party is still committed to participating in the national and sub-national elections to promote democracy, multiparty and the development of the nation.”

Hun Sen said the public and the party had asked why the party was allowed to take part in the 2022 commune elections if it lacked an original registration certificate. He said there had been more than 1,000 communes and there had been an exception. He would not allow the same mistake to happen again.

He also thanked the party for its understanding and not holding a demonstration over the ban while the country was hosting the 32nd SEA Games.

His government has been flooded with foreign criticism. On May 25, the US deplored the constitutional decision, saying the international commitments of Cambodia to establish a multiparty democracy were undermined by politically motivated criminal charges and legal actions against opposition parties, independent media and civil society.

“The United States is deeply troubled that Cambodian authorities are preventing the Candlelight Party – the Kingdom’s largest opposition party – from participating in July 2023 national elections,” it said.

It said the US would not send observers to the July elections because they had been assessed as neither free nor fair by many independent Cambodian and international experts.​​

French and Japan say they will not send any official observers, embassy personnel will be sent as special guests.

Hun Sen has repeatedly told the international community to stay out of the country’s internal affairs and the election.

Related Articles