A minor party president on Tuesday filed a court complaint against CNRP President Kem Sokha, claiming that the opposition leader’s comments urging Cambodians not to “waste” votes on small political parties amounted to incitement to discrimination.
Cambodian Youth Party (CYP) president Pich Sros filed the complaint at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, accusing Mr. Sokha of inciting the Cambodian people to discriminate against other political parties.
Cambodian Youth Party President Pich Sros speaks to reporters outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, where he filed a complaint against CNRP President Kem Sokha on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)The complaint cites eight articles in the Constitution and two in the Law on Political Parties, but none of them mentions incitement. The Criminal Code includes a charge of incitement to discrimination, but it pertains to discrimination based on ethnicity, nationality, race or religion.
Mr. Sros said he was exercising his legal rights, and added that his new party, created in 2015, did not yet have the clout to otherwise challenge Mr. Sokha.
“You are the lawmaker…. Please put the law on your head; don’t put the law under your foot,” Mr. Sros told reporters outside the court, referencing Mr. Sokha. “I ask him to recheck the law and use political messages not beyond the limit of the law.”
In a speech on June 12, Mr. Sokha urged minor party supporters to “not waste your votes” and instead support the CNRP as the only real challenger to the CPP at next year’s national election.
Asked how Mr. Sokha’s words affected his party, Mr. Sros said it could hinder recruiting party candidates and supporters.
None of the eight constitutional articles cited in the complaint mention incitement, and instead guarantee the rights of Cambodians to participate in politics, to have freedom of expression and other fundamental protections.
The relevant party law articles, according to the complaint, are Article 4—“All political parties shall be entitled to the same rights, privileges and shall receive equal treatment from the Royal Government and authorities of all levels”—and Article 5—“Participation as a member of any political party is the free own choice of every Khmer citizen. No person may have the right to compel anybody to join any political party.”
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the complaint was just wasting time.
“We should be using the time we have to be valuable. There is a lot of work that [could] benefit the nation,” he said.
Mr. Sros’ party had not won a single commune seat at the June 4 commune elections, so “how can I be encouraged to challenge [the complaint]?” Mr. Sovann said.
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