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PHNOM PENH — Prime Minister Hun Sen said that “an iron fist” will be used against the leaders of the Candlelight Party and his supporters if any demonstration is held regarding the party failing to obtain its registration papers for the upcoming national elections.
The prime minister added that the leaders of the armed forces at all levels in the countries, whether at national or sub-national levels must be ready to arrest anyone who would dare to demonstrate in protest regarding this issue.
"I order all the authorities wherever the authorities do not to allow rallies against public order as Cambodia is hosting the SEA Games," he said.
“I warn you to be careful in your activities,” he said on his official Telegram page on May 13. “All prison directors: Be prepared [with] places for receiving CP's leaders of all levels if they dare to commit any crimes."
Do not be intimidated by the use of legal measures to respond to the dangerous actions of the Candlelight Party, the prime minister told them.
Hun Sen's warning came as the Candlelight Party has been planning to hold demonstrations if the National Election Committee (NEC) refuses to accept its registration documents for the upcoming national elections.
As of May, the Candlelight Party (CP) had been unable to register for the national elections taking place in July due to a change in the procedure to the effect that a party must submit its original registration documents to run in the elections, while copies had been accepted for the 2017 national elections.
Candlelight Party members said they had submitted its original documents to the Ministry of Interior, which had given them copies and kept the originals.
On May 12, the Candlelight Party released a statement saying that on May 12 at 3 o’clock, its representatives would meet with the NEC to submit additional documents. The NEC required the opposition party to provide the original version of the party’s certificate of registration from the Ministry of Interior, which is certified by the capital, province, municipality, and district administrations.
On May 13, Rong Chhun, vice-president of the Candlelight Party, confirmed that the meeting with the NEC had taken place, the documents had been submitted and the party members were waiting for the NEC response. He said that the Ministry of Interior's letter confirmed the Candlelight Party as a legitimate political party but that the NEC had refused and still demanded the original documents.
“There are seven days for the NEC to check the documents,” Chhun said. Still, he said, “I hope that the NEC will [tell] us faster than that, might be three days I hope.” He added that, if the NEC still rejects the party’s right to take part in the upcoming elections, the party’s leaders, members, activists, and supporters across the country will be gathering to ask for the right to join in the national elections.
Several hours after issuing orders to the police and armed forces throughout the country to arrest any Candlelight Party member demonstrating, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on his official Telegram page on May 13 that he would meet Candlelight Party leaders on July 30 at the Peace Palace after the National elections.