CPP Sued Candlelight Party for Criticizing the Election

Supporters of the Candlelight Party (CP) shout slogans from a vehicle during a rally on the last day of campaigning for the commune elections in Phnom Penh on June 3, 2022. (Photo by TANG CHHIN Sothy / AFP)

The party Vice President is asked to pay $1 million as compensation

PHNOM PENH – The Cambodian People's Party (CPP) has filed a lawsuit against Candlelight Party (CLP) Vice President Son Chhay, accusing him of criticizing the Commune-Sangkat Council Election in Cambodia, which took place on June 5, 2022, allegedly damaging the CPP’s reputation.

The government lawyer Ky Tech filed a complaint on June 14 with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, requesting that the Phnom Penh Municipal Prosecutor's Office convicts Son Chhay in accordance with the law. It also demands that Son Chhay pays an approximately $1 million compensation to the CPP.

The complaint was previously approved by the ruling party.

In his complaint letter, Ky Tech said that Son Chhay accused the CPP of controlling the election process while the ballot results did not reflect the will of the Cambodian people as there was intimidation, purchase, and sale of votes. Son Chhay raised these issues in an interview on the Washington-based Cambodia Daily Khmer version’s Facebook page on June 7.

“Son Chhay's statement is a misrepresentation of the truth, as it provides false information with the intention of blaming and slandering, which will seriously damage the reputation of the Cambodian People's Party, which wins the election,” the complaint statement read.

During the interview on June 7, Son Chhay said that since the first election in 1993, Cambodia had never had an NEC leader who came from the ruling party as it did this year.

He said that on election day, the authorities used their power to intimidate people who came to vote. He considered this election to be undemocratic, not free, not fair, and did not reflect the will of the Cambodian people.

Thach Setha, a spokesman for the Candlelight Party, said that being able to freely express one’s views is normal in a democratic society. In addition, he recalled that the Candlelight Party has gained more than 2,000 commune council seats across the country.

Therefore, the ruling party should discuss with the Candlelight Party about working together, not suing each other, he said.

“If people's opinions are right, we should just improve the failing point. The story will end. Why do we have to sue each other?” Setha said.

The National Election Committee (NEC) on June 13 warned of taking legal action against those who falsely accuse the election process not to have been carried out properly, to prevent further criticism of the election.

The NEC considered Son Chhay’s statement as “unacceptable”, “disrespectful” and “damaging to voter values.” Not only that, the NEC considers Son Chhay’s remarks undermine its own honor and dignity, as well as cause confusion and loss of confidence in the election in Cambodia.

The CPP received 5.3 million votes or 74.32 percent, while CLP received 1.6 million votes accounting for 22.26 percent, according to preliminary NEC results.

The CPP won more than 8,630 commune council seats and secured at least 1,648 commune chief positions, while the CLP won around 2,500 council seats and got four communes.

According to the NEC, 7.3 million of 9.2 million eligible voters took part, amounting to 80 percent.

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