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Candlelight Party May Be Banned from Running in Future Elections under New Law

PHNOM PENH: Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, Chin Malin, presented the legal aspects related to recent convictions of those found guilty of inciting people not to go to the polls or to invalidate their ballots, after carefully monitoring the political situation.

Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, along with 16 others, was convicted by the NEC of instructing and inciting voters to destroy their ballots yesterday. The offence was made illegal earlier this month and the new law imposes fines on those found guilty, in addition to suspending their voting rights and ability to run for office in future elections. The suspensions came on the heels of two Candlelight Party members confessing to the same crimes on Sunday.

In a Facebook post on July 18, Chin Malin said that from a legal point of view, the decision of the NEC to withdraw the right to stand for election is final and that those convicted have no legal recourse. He also noted that the decision cannot be reversed like that of a court decision, which can be pardoned by royal or government decrees.

Chin Malin also wrote about the legal ties being made between the Candlelight Party and Sam Rainsy. According to the confession of Candlelight Party member Bun Kate, who was arrested on July 14, he was following the instructions of Sam Rainsy when he instructed citizens to invalidate their ballots by crossing them out. Candlelight Party members have been strategizing ways to protest the upcoming election since their party was denied entry into it in May.

Chin Malin said, "This proves that the Candlelight Party may be involved and following the orders of Sam Rainsy, which is a violation of the new Article 6 of the Law on Political Parties (two), which can lead to the Candlelight Party facing penalties under the new Article 44 (two) of the Political Parties Act, as well as other criminal penalties."

If the Candlelight Party is found guilty of inciting voters to protest on their ballots, the opposition party will be banned from running candidates in future elections, in addition to facing heavy fines.

The Justice Ministry spokesperson finished by highlighting the importance of the 7th National Assembly election on July 23. He said that it is an important national event in which people across the country exercise their rights every five years. He encouraged citizens to use their democratic rights to go to the polls to elect leaders to continue leading the country for a five-year term.

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