PHNOM PENH: A senior official of the Candlelight Party, Son Chhay, blamed the leaders of the Candlelight Party Committee for not understanding the legal procedures of registering for the upcoming national election, leaving the party in limbo after its application was rejected by the National Election Committee.
Speaking to supporters of the Candlelight Party on May 14, Son Chhay blamed the Board of Directors of the Candlelight Party for not understanding Cambodian law in regards to registering for the July elections. He said that their failure to meet the criteria set by the NEC for registration was their own fault as they handed in a copy of the party’s registration, rather than a certified original. Furthermore, he said their calls for members to protest the NEC’s decision to decline their registration was, “a serious mistake.”
“I regret that they did not use their intellect which only produced a mess,” he said, "We are a big party with a lot of secondary support, and we, the party leaders, are making something out of nothing, which will only disrupt our work," he said.
More than ten parties have had their applications approved for the upcoming July 2023 general election. The Candlelight Party still has not yet been accepted by the NEC, as they are required to submit an original of the political party registration certificate to the Ministry of Interior, which is certified by the capital, province, municipality, and district and administrations. The Candlelight Party received this explanation in a letter from the ministry on May 9.
In a statement issued on May 14, the NEC confirmed that an original certificate of registration of a political party from the Ministry of Interior is the only valid document; that it will not accept copies. "OWSO of the Capital, Provinces, Municipalities and Districts shall facilitate the legalization of the announcement on the registration of political parties at the Ministry of Interior, free of charge," the statement added.
Due to the controversy, the Candlelight Party issued a statement urging its activists to protest against the NEC, while the Prime Minister welcomed the imprisonment of the opposition leaders if this happened. After receiving a warning from the Prime Minister, the opposition leader asked to meet with the Prime Minister, but was told a meeting would not be held until after the July 2023 election.