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BREAKING NEWS: NEC Accuses Son Chhay of Public Defamation and Files Lawsuit

PHNOM PENH: The National Election Committee (NEC) has filed a lawsuit against a senior official of the Candlelight Party, Son Chhay, in court on Friday, 17 June 2022, alleging public defamation in the interview he did with the Cambodia Daily.

NEC member Dim Sovannarom, and Deputy Secretary General of the NEC, Som Soreida, submitted to the court a USB Flash drive containing the contents of the interview Candlelight Party senior official, Son Chhay, did with interviewer Tang Sarada for the Cambodia Daily Newspaper on 7 June 2022.

The material submitted includes a statement made by Son Chhay about the election results, saying that "the result does not reflect the will of the people, there is intimidation, and there is vote buying, there is stealing, here are [the votes] that are left from that. […] We do not want to compare this to a thief stealing cows, as we say, if a thief steals three cows, why would we allow the thief to steal all five?"

Some other statements the NEC included were, "It is not because the opposition party threw a tantrum, [we] do not just only talk about it, we have the technique, we have the evidence, there was the village chief who wrote down [the name of voters], soldiers were deployed near the polling station, the soldiers were deployed around night time and did something that we know, so I think it is not right, not fair, the NEC is not independent, and the results do not reflect the will of the people.

The NEC state that these statements made by Son Chhay have seriously affected the council, which must perform its duties independently and impartially to ensure that the elections are free, fair and just in accordance with the principles of multi-party democracy.

The NEC considers these allegations to be in violation of the new Article 150 (2) of the Cambodian Constitution, Article 42 of the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the National Election Committee, and Article 305 on Public Defamation of the Criminal Code of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The NEC has requested the court to convict Son Chhay for public defamation and for him to write a public letter of apology to the NEC.

On 13 June, the NEC issued a statement announcing that it would take legal action against Son Chhay's false allegations.

Son Chhay left the country before receiving the NEC’s warning.

The senior Candlelight Party official is currently also being sued by the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) for US $1 million after he commented on a foreign media broadcast in the Cambodian language that the 5 June Commune/Sangkat Council elections were stolen.

The 5th Mandate Commune/Sangkat Council Election of 2022 was held on Sunday, 5 June, with 17 political parties participating in total. These parties competed to hold 11,622 commune council seats from 1,652 Communes and Districts nationwide. The number of people who went to vote was close to 7.3 million people, about 80% of the 9.2 million registered voters.

On the morning of Monday, 6 June, international observers of the communal elections held a press conference announcing their collective conclusion that the 5 June election was held in a calm, transparent and free manner, in accordance with international law.

A representative of the International Observers, Hubert Moise Hal Haddad, said that he has been involved in many election observation missions, and found the Cambodian election to be of an equal standard to the French elections he has participated in before.

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